Olé, olé, olé! Maine’s first professional soccer club is here.

With a “hype video” hype-filled enough to make even somebody watching it in Maine wish they were in Maine, a raft of very good-looking merchandise and a lively turnout at a Thompson’s Point launch event last weekend, Portland Hearts of Pine finally came into view. Play begins next year.

It took the club’s founders the guts of seven years to get to this stage – and thank goodness all involved stuck it out. We predict the statewide payoff in excitement, camaraderie and community will be through the roof. Soccer is called “the beautiful game” for a reason.

“Worldwide, soccer is more than a sport,” Reza Jalali, the former executive director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and himself a soccer player on and off his whole life, wrote in these pages ahead of the FIFA World Cup final in 2022. “It can pass as a religion, complete with saint-like personalities worth worshipping.”

Across Maine, Jalai noted, this worship is on ready display. “There are groups young and old playing ‘the beautiful game’ in a school gym or outside in a field. Despite the differences in ethnicity, spoken languages, religion and race, our shared love of soccer brings us together.”

In Portland, you need only walk down Fox Street on a given evening, rain or shine, to see this in action among feisty players and spectators at Kennedy Park. Or, for that matter, walk down the same street when a Premier League game is on TV at the Zoo, a local soccer-happy bar, and hear the roars of assembled supporters carrying out onto the sidewalk.

In her 2018 book “One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together” Amy Bass told the story of the powerful role played by Lewiston High School’s boys soccer team, the Blue Devils, in helping the community overcome stubborn and painful racist tension – and this in a die-hard hockey town – as kids from Somalia and the Congo played beside kids who grew up on the Androscoggin. (Not weeks after the deadly mass shooting of Oct. 25, the Lewiston boys team won the state championship last November. “We have been saying the past few weeks, ‘Do it for the city,’” Lewiston goalie Payson Goyette told a reporter.)

Soccer invites people to come together. Its magic induces them to stick together. We’re very excited to watch this goal, energetically pursued, become a reality.

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