Basil Mascali found his way to Melbourne Victory in the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season with almost no background in the sport of football.
It was the influence of his father-in-law and the desire to connect himself and his sons with their grandpa.
“My father-in-law was very big on football, Basil said.
“He was originally born in Rome, so he has got that background. He coached junior football all his life and then when my eldest son started playing sport, we decided to go with football and I know that around that time, the A-League was just starting up.
“I think it’s good for young kids playing any sport to see the top class in their region play. And it was good way to have them spend time with their grandpa and their Nonno, and even me with my father-in-law. It was just nice.
“I remember some of the greatest memories I have is going to watch AFL with my uncles when I was younger, so I wanted to give my sons the same opportunity.”
Almost a decade on, and Basil has become fully invested.
“At the start, I hadn’t really taken it on board yet, but now the kids have really bought in and they have their favourite players and then you just become entrenched in it all and you start to really feel the losses, or the injuries…it’s become more personal. It’s Victory for life now.”
While football had not previously been Basil’s preferred sport, he has always appreciated the beauty of the game.
“I’ve always said that football is one of those competitions where you don’t have to be the best team to win. You can score that lucky goal or give one away.
“When the atmosphere is just so electric, and you get that feeling throughout the game that you’ve got a chance to win, you never leave the game until the final whistle because you just never know.
“And that’s what I really like about the atmosphere at AAMI Park … you’ve always got hope.”
Even during summer holidays, Basil and his family are resolute that nothing keeps them from AAMI Park.
“We’ve got a caravan down in Sorrento, in the summer that we go to on the weekends and when we play on a Friday or Saturday night we’ll drive up to the game and back to Sorrento that night just to watch.
“It’s what we want to do, and I also think it’s what a lot of other people expect from us now – my mother-in-law, my wife and even other people around the campsite …t hey’ll be like ‘oh are you going to the game tonight?’”
For Basil, his father-in-law, and his two boys, life with Victory has become the norm, and it has been a special way to begin new multigenerational traditions.
“We may not be foundation members, but it’s just really a unique situation…
“To become a member of an AFL club, you’re becoming a member with something that’s been in the system for over 100 years, but when a club like Victory is just a few years old in comparison, it’s really sort of a rare situation.
“And hopefully the kids will one day sign up their families and it becomes a generational thing.”
Like so many of our supporters, Victory has become about family for Basil. Not only the family he goes to the matches with, but the family they have created at those matches.
“Becoming members, it’s been nice to develop a Victory family in the membership area where we are. We have got our Marvel Stadium family, who’ve seen my boys grow up year after year, which is nice.
“And at AAMI Park, there is just a lovely bit of banter, having a laugh…it’s really great that you can have interactions with the same people.”
While the A-League is newer on the sporting scene, Victory boasts a rich history, priding itself on being member built.
Basil reflects on this observation and the access to the club he has experienced first-hand as a member.
“If you look at all the interactions with members, and even the stuff the players do on social media, it really does have an emphasis on the members,” he explains.
“I remember I was in Richmond for a car service and I walked down to the ground where Victory was training, and the coach at the time took a couple of minutes to have a chat with me and it was such a tiny little thing for him to do but it makes a difference.
“I find it really wonderful how we feel a part of Victory, like the 12th player. It’s really is nice to know that the players and the club seem to believe that.”