The Hyundai A-League and its 10 clubs are embracing football’s greatest asset – the army of participants and their families - to take football to the next level as the 2016/17 season gets underway this weekend.
Research shows that a staggering 2.18* million Australians participate in football. Despite this however, it also reveals that more than half of kids aged 15 years and under are yet to make a solid commitment to support a Hyundai A-League team.
Enter 10-year-old Yoshi, the hero of our story and the ultimate illustration of the opportunity football has to unlock the untapped army of football fans all over the country.
After playing in a spring football competition last year, Yoshi has immersed himself in football and is now on the hunt for a Hyundai A-League team to call his own.
Over the past few months, all 10 A League clubs have stepped up their on-field rivalry and gone head-to-head to vie for Yoshi’s support. Yoshi, who shook the hands of eight Hyundai A-League captains, high fived over 90 hero players, travelled over 15,000kms and took more than 1600 photos (20 of which were selfies with Tim Cahill), visited the clubs and gave them all the opportunity to win his support.
- Melbourne City championed their experiences with Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli, teaching Yoshi Tim’s flag punch routine, how to shoot for goal like a pro, followed by a view of the city from the top of Eureka Tower
- Melbourne Victory’s number one celeb fan, George Calombaris gave Yoshi a pep talk as to why the club is the best pick, while they prepared a meal together to share with the players including stars Besart Berisha and Carl Valeri.
- Sydney FC organised for Yoshi to be helicoptered around Sydney with returning star, Bernie Ibini. Followed by an on ground experience at Allianz stadium, where he entered alongside the team and experienced the feeling of 40,000 fans chanting ‘WE ARE SYDNEY” over the loudspeaker.
- The Western Sydney Wanderers took Yoshi to a Super Fan’s house, a family of supporters with kids explaining why they’re a force in the Hyundai A-League. Yoshi then learnt the WSW player/fan salute and had a one on one chat with the coach, Tony Popovic.
- A warm welcome was put on by Wellington Phoenix, where Yoshi was welcomed by a posse of fans at the airport and a traditional Maori welcome at Westpac Stadium. Yoshi also visited the Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop before playing football on top of Mt. Victoria with Andrew Durante, Glen Moss and Kosta Barbarouses, overlooking the city skyline.
- Adelaide United recreated the winning moment from last season’s Grand Final, including the iconic Isaías Sánchez free kick and fireworks.
- The Newcastle Jets took Yoshi to the RAAF base, where alongside captain Nigel Boogaard, he fired up a F/A-18 Hornet and experienced technology in the flight simulator.
- Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi relived his experience in slotting home THAT penalty, which sent Australia to the 2006 World Cup. John also gave Yoshi some tips on his football skills.
- Over in WA, Perth Glory explored Cottlesloe Beach for a game of twilight beach football, and surprised Yoshi with a sand sculpture which read: ‘Yoshi, You’ve Gotta pick Perth Glory’. Glory’s Josh Risdon also showed off his Yoshi tattoo.
- Central Coast Mariners called on Australia’s first MasterChef winner, Julie Goodwin, who hosted a lunch with four of the Mariners players, to explain why the Central Coast community stands out and why the Mariners deserve his support. Yoshi was also given the honor of firing the matchday cannon.
“Our challenge is to unite the two million people who have expressed their passion and love for football as a player, coach, referee, parent, son, daughter, supporter, administrator or fan and engrain them into the Hyundai A-League so they can enjoy the unique atmosphere that can only be felt inside the stadium on matchday”, said FFA CEO David Gallop.
“With this in mind, we wanted to showcase the clubs’ attributes to help build a strong, loyal community following. Our goal with this initiative is to give people who’ve yet to select their team the chance to get a better understanding of what each team represents and their culture so they can make an informed decision.
“Because to truly feel everything football has to offer … you’ve gotta have a team!”
Yoshi is still in the process of selecting a team, and he will fly around the country over the coming weeks to watch all the clubs in action and experience the atmosphere at some of the biggest games of the season.
You can follow Yoshi’s journey at http://www.a-league.com.au/youve-gotta-have-a-team and are encouraged to lobby for Yoshi’s support via social media, and present your own case for Yoshi to join your team using the hashtag, #ALeague.