Look up on the capo stand on a Nashville SC matchday and you’ll see Tunji Junard leading the crowd in chants and songs. The words and notes ring out behind Junard’s unique mask.
It’s all an extension of the passion he already has for the team, and his costume reflects that as well.
“I’ve always been one of the loudest when cheering for the team,” Junard said. “When we opened the new stadium, I got the call to capo and they wouldn’t let me say no. I use an MF Doom Mask (my favorite rapper) to get into character. My goal is to get people moving and excited that our team is playing. I feel like a composer and the crowd is my orchestra.”
Junard, who grew up in Nashville after moving from England in the 1990s, established love for Nashville SC halfway across the country in San Francisco. He was in the Bay Area getting his master's degree when someone told him about a new USL Championship franchise starting in his hometown. When he got back to Nashville, he joined the Nashville SC Street Team to help spread the word about Nashville’s new team across the mid-state.
With the transition to Major League Soccer, Junard found himself in the supporters section every matchday, cheering on the Boys in Gold. He linked up with other supporters to create The Mixtape 615, Nashville SC’s first Black-led supporter group, in June 2021. And as the opening of GEODIS Park approached on May 1, 2022, Junard was given a new opportunity: leading chants on the capo stand.
“It was my first time leading the capo stand, so I was a bag of nerves and my legs felt like Jell-O,” Junard said about the GEODIS Park opener. “But I was super excited to finally be home. May 1st is burned into my memory banks as one of the greatest days to be a soccer-loving Nashville native.”
Nashville SC has created a number of traditions as part of the matchday experience. Junard has created his own, which borders on superstitious.
“I'm a fitness nut, so I park at my favorite pub, South Side Kitchen & Pub, throw back two drafts and take a shot of whiskey, then I run 1.5 miles to the stadium,” he said. “It's a ritual that I can't stop doing because of silly superstition.”
Junard’s enthusiasm makes him an Ultimate Fan. And as that enthusiasm spreads to the rest of the stadium, and the rest of Nashville, it creates something magical.
“It's the energy we, as Nashvillians, bring to this sport,” Junard said. “I remember talking with the NSC marketing director a few years ago about how Nashville can stand out in the soccer world and not imitate other fanbases, and they told me they were excited to see how things evolved. Fast forward two years, and GEODIS Park sounds like a music festival every matchday. We have the best-sounding group of fans in all of MLS. When you come in as an opposing fan, you have to listen to us sing about how you're gonna lose. Welcome to Music City, baby!”