Bernadette Payne has been a staunch supporter of the Dash since the start. Now almost 10 years later, Payne continues to support Texas’ only NWSL club at PNC Stadium.  

Payne says her love for soccer developed when she played in recreational leagues as a recent college graduate. Payne says the sport of soccer has come a long way since she was in college. 

Even more so, Payne says the access to the sport for women has grown tremendously in the years since.  

“I grew up before Title IX,” Payne said. “So, I didn't benefit from any kind of women's sports. I didn't start playing until I graduated college and moved to Houston. I joined a team just to get out and be social, because I was working too many hours.” 

Now on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, women have equal access to organized sport for more than half a century. For Payne, the impact of that legislation is manifested in how much women’s soccer has grown and the skill level of current players.  

“I'm glad to see that people of this generation (get that opportunity),” Payne said. “I love it because there's no way we could play at their skill level now. We didn't get that benefit. I love to watch that with the ladies playing because it just amazes me that they can handle the ball the way they do. I just love seeing that.” 

More than 40 years after she kicked a ball for the first time in the Bayou City, Payne says she still continues to play today as a way to stay active. Payne is also active in the soccer community and hopes to continue to help the game grow in the United States.  

“Overall, I'd just like to see the continued support of the sport and that doesn't take away from any other sport. I just like to watch the awakening of the sport overall, but especially for women,” Payne said. “Women play the game truer to how it's supposed to be played. I think if you want to learn the game of soccer, watch women play it. That's all I can say. You'll learn the game, you'll learn the strategy.” 

Payne says getting the opportunity to watch elite soccer is something she cherishes. She is especially grateful for the chance to also get to know the players off the pitch.  

“There's good interaction between the players and the fans,” Payne said. “You can tell that they appreciate the people that show up for them.” 

Payne will be among the supporters at PNC Stadium supporting the team on Saturday night as they host the Washington Spirit. She will also be honored at SeatGeek’s Member of the Match and for more information about Dash 365 Memberships, click here.