By: Los Tejanos Del Sur Staff
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS (1 December 2011)—Amidst the excitement of a winning record, the realistic possibility of the Houston Texans making their first postseason appearance in franchise history, and the drama surrounding the loss of players Mario Williams, Matt Schaub, and Matt Leinart, Valley Texans fans firmly believe that they still have a team to root for and much to cheer about.
For “Los Tejanos Del Sur,” the official fan club for the Houston Texans in the Rio Grande Valley, the knob on the excitement level goes to “12,” as in “The Twelfth Man.”
The Valley fan club of die-hard Texans fans that recently captured state and nationwide attention for their Veterans Day protest at a local CBS affiliate television station, also happened to catch the eye of the Houston Texans, and as a result, have been offered the opportunity of a lifetime--to take the field for pregame ceremonies on Sunday afternoon when the Atlanta Falcons (7-4, 2nd NFC South) visit the Houston Texans (8-3, 1st AFC South).
“Los Tejanos Del Sur” accepted the honor of being amongst the members of the flag bearing crew that will hold the giant Texas flag during the playing of the State Anthem in pregame ceremonies. By all accounts, this will be the first time that a group from the Rio Grande Valley participates in official ceremonies for an NFL game in the state of Texas—including the former Houston Oilers and the past and present Dallas Cowboys franchises.
Of the unexpected recognition, Del Sur member Jo Ann Cavazos of Brownsville shares the sentiment of the Valley Texans faithful that received word of Sunday’s activities. “It’s an honor for us to be recognized by the Texans organization for doing what we thought was the right thing to do,” Cavazos said. “I would like to thank them for giving us the once in a lifetime experience of bearing our State’s flag on the playing field this Sunday.”
Among the young members that will be participating on Sunday is 13 year-old Christian Cisneros of Mercedes. Cisneros was also present during the protest from start to finish and is excited to learn that he will be on the field on game day.
“I always wondered what it would be like to be on the field,” Cisneros said. “I’m excited and overwhelmed,” he added, “We stood up for Texans fans in the Valley, and for what we believed in, and I’m proud of that.”
For Del Sur member Joe Menchaca, native Houstonian-turned-Valleyite residing in McAllen, the return to Houston is one of optimism. “It’s an honor and a dream come true to be on the field at Reliant Stadium and it’ll be an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Menchaca said. “When my kids and I watch the games, I can say, ‘Daddy was on that field.’ “It’s a genuine gesture,” he adds, “Rarely do you see a team that recognizes ‘the little guys’—those of us that support the team.”
Founded in 2010, “Los Tejanos Del Sur” operates as an athletic and social program under the Muay Thai Alliance of Texas (MTAT), a non-profit organization. Del Sur has held viewing parties to cheer on their team at venues across the Valley, but holds other events that are geared to help improve the quality of life in Valley communities. In addition, Del Sur has a fan travel program to offer fans the opportunity to attend Texans home games at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
MTAT Chairman Kru Kayan Sitsanthaparn cited that Del Sur is also planning events that focus on helping the needy and that will establish a scholarship fund. He states, “Although Del Sur is comprised of die-hard Texans fans that bleed Battle Red and are fervent in supporting our team, we are in tune with our community’s needs and work together as a club and with others to help where we can.”
With regard to Sunday’s pre-game festivities, Sitsanthaparn smiles at the notion that the Rio Grande Valley and its Texans fans will, for a moment in time, have become part of the larger-than-life realm of professional football at Reliant Stadium. “It hasn’t dawned on me just yet,” he says. “As a huge Texans fan, and just like when the Texans visited us here in April, this will be one of those moments in my lifetime when I’m going to ask people to pinch me to make sure that I’m not dreaming.”