Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is embracing his role as Austin FC's minister of culture.
The minority owner of the Major League Soccer expansion team said he's focusing on building a "legacy" that leverages the city of Austin's culture so that the franchise's "roots grow deeper, not just wider."
"I'm not interested in just being a mascot," McConaughey told reporters on Tuesday over Zoom for a conference call — one week out from Austin FC's inaugural season opener against LAFC on April 17. The team's first home game is June 19 at the Q2 Stadium hosting the San Jose Earthquakes. Austin FC was founded in 2018 and will be the first top-division major professional sports team in the Austin area.
"I've always dreamed of being on the ground level," McConaughey said. "There are shortcuts everywhere. ... We're trying to build a big strong oak (tree). This is a 100-year war. We have the long view for what we're going to become."
The 51-year old actor attended the University of Texas at Austin and said he felt drawn to be a part of the team's beginning stages because of how universal the sport of soccer can be. Combining his love of soccer with his love of Austin makes it the perfect opportunity, McConaughey said.
"(Soccer) is just a great uniter," he said. "Austin is a diverse city that already is a soccer town. We're relentlessly optimistic. They've never had a team to root for. It's the world's game."
Even though he's trying to take a hands-on approach with his involvement, McConaughey said he knows to leave it to the experts. He sees his job as being a harmonizer.
"I need to be there as someone who knows Austin so that the team playing and the (city) can be mirror images of each other," he said. "Austin FC will be a representation of our city."
McConaughey's wife, Camila Alves, is Brazilian and he said all the traveling for his movies has left an imprint on him about the togetherness soccer can provide.
"All over the world people come together," he said. "That's my favorite thing about what the soccer ball represents."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Matthew McConaughey discusses role as minority owner of MLS' Austin FC