The Hyundai A-League and its 10 clubs started the season with a bid to attract more young fans to the game after research revealed that more than half of kids aged 15 years and under were yet to make a solid commitment to support a team - because ultimately You’ve Gotta Have A Team.
Enter 10-year-old Yoshi, the hero of our story, after playing in a spring football competition last year, Yoshi has immersed himself in football and yet still lacked a Hyundai A-League team to call his own.
Over the past few months, all 10 Hyundai A-League clubs have stepped up their on-field rivalry and gone head-to-head to vie for Yoshi’s support. Yoshi, who high fived over 90 players, travelled over 15,000kms, shook the hands of eight Hyundai A-League captains and took more than 1600 photos, visited the clubs and gave them all the opportunity to win his support.
Further to the individual club visits, Yoshi has been closely following this season’s opening matches, as he weighed up which club should win his support. To help him with his selection, Yoshi based it on four factors that were most important to him:
1. Family: Are the clubs welcoming to a family crowd and inclusive for all ages? Being a 10 year old himself he is seeking a club that encourages the younger fans?
2. Team: Do the clubs have strong, friendly players with personality that Yoshi could relate to and admire?
3. Performance/Play: Do the team perform well together, make chances and deliver an exciting experience. Whilst Yoshi knows that with his decision he is in for the long haul and some seasons his chosen club will perform better than others, he wants a dynamic club that push themselves to create opportunities on the pitch.
4. Fans: Do the clubs have a proud fan base, will Yoshi be in good company?
Whilst all the clubs put on a great show there could only be one winner, and Melbourne City stole the show and Yoshi’s lifelong support, ticking all his boxes.
However, above and beyond the great family atmosphere he witnessed, Tim Cahill’s stunning 35m strike, which Yoshi was privileged to see in person and the bicycle kick tutorial he got from Bruno Fornaroli, it was the club’s welcoming and supportive attitude that sealed the deal.
“Making the final decision was a lot harder than I had ever imagined,” commented Yoshi, “I had such a fantastic time with each of the clubs.
"Playing football on top of Mt. Victoria with some of the Wellington Phoenix team was pretty awesome, so was getting to go in a helicopter with Bernie Ibini from Sydney FC. Also meeting and getting penalty training from Aloisi was pretty unreal, he’s such a legend.”
“However, I knew Melbourne City was a club I wanted to support when, at the end of the day’s filming, Tim Cahill told me that whatever club I picked I’d be welcome back to see them anytime as their guest,” commented Yoshi, when describing why the team got his vote.
“The fact that they would be supportive of me, whatever choice I made, I thought was really cool. It was this clubs spirit and attitude that really appealed to me the most.”
FFA CEO David Gallop paid tribute to the effect of Yoshi’s journey and congratulated Melbourne City for the efforts of their players and staff in truly engaging with Yoshi.
“The season has start fantastically well with attendances up 33% and viewership up 50%, backed up by impressive performances on the pitch,” Gallop said.
"It is a massive credit to Melbourne City and their fan engagement that Yoshi had such a good experience when he went to their training centre, match day and spent time with the players.
“Yoshi may have selected Melbourne City but the early season surge in attendance and TV ratings shows that thousands of others have also picked their team.
“Our ambition with this initiative was to showcase each of the clubs’ distinctive attributes so those fans and families who’ve yet to select their team can have a better understanding of what each team represents and showcase their personality to make an informed decision.
"We hope that Yoshi’s extraordinary journey has done just that and will continue to inspire other young Aussies to show their support and pick a club to call their own.
“To truly feel everything football has to offer … you’ve gotta have a team!”
Making the final decision was very tough for Yoshi as he was quite simply blown away by all the effort put in by each of the clubs to give him a personalized experience and memories that will stay with him for life, but ultimately there can only be one winner.
You can follow Yoshi’s journey and make your own club selection at www.a-league.com.au/youve-gotta-have-a-team