The devastating bushfire season last summer caused great disruption and uncertainty for a large number of people.
Melbourne Victory member Ben Knight, from East Gippsland, has used football as a way for his family to come together and enjoy some relief.
Not long after New Year’s Eve, Knight’s family had to vacate their home due to the fires and they went to stay with family near Melbourne – allowing them to watch our 4-0 win over Newcastle Jets.
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“For where we are in East Gippsland, it’s been a trying time with the bushfires, that’s why having the membership gives us as a family that bit of respite,” Knight said.
“Once it was safe enough to go back home In January, we were told to vacate again about two weeks later, so we came back to Melbourne and saw another game.
“It was a very challenging time. I looked down the end of my street and could see the flames shooting 50 odd meters in the air. I’m the president of the East Gippsland Football Club, and for our members, I ended up having 11 players that had lost their homes, so it’s been a rebuild for us.”
Knight, who jumped on board with the club in the early days, has a long history with the sport and even coached a Victory legend at school.
“Football is in my family. My dad played for Birmingham City, my uncle played for Aston Villa. We’re a deeply rooted football family. I played for many clubs around Melbourne.
“You know Danny Allsopp? I coached him at school at Heathmont College. I think I was in Year 11 or 12 when I was coaching him. So I’ve been a deeply-rooted Victory supporter. It was an easy decision for us to become members.
“Having a young family, I was just waiting for them to be grown up enough to travel the distance and come to a game and sit there without asking the question – ‘when are we going home?’
Knight’s young boys are now hooked and dream of making their own impact on the sport by representing the Socceroos one day.
“In my family, both my boys dream for playing for Australia. So really my drive was just to give them the experience and have them see their heroes, the ones they’re always searching the internet for and have their cards for.
“So it was just really making sure they got to experience the whole of football, from grassroots to the professional level.
“And then it was easy that I had already been a Victory fan and previous member so I’m more than happy to be supporting Melbourne Victory and boost the membership.”