National Volunteer Week: Livio Basile’s St Mary’s story

Meet Livio Basile, a man whose love for footy and commitment to volunteering has made him a vital part of the St Mary’s Football Club for over 30 years and counting.

Livio began volunteering at St Mary’s in 1992, when out of the blue his son Damien decided to take up under 10’s football mid-season. Livio took him down to training on Wednesday and by Sunday Damien was out on the field.

“My son’s first year of football is still one of the best for me. I can’t describe the immense feeling of pride watching him play and win his first, and only, premiership,” shared Livio.

From the outset, Livio threw himself into volunteering with the club and quickly became an essential member of the team. From 1992 to 1997 he was the boundary umpire for every single game his son played, and soon after added trainer, canteen volunteer and player advocate at the tribunal to his resume. It’s no surprise that by 2001 Livio was awarded Life Membership.

Over the years, his role in the junior club expanded and he held several committee positions, including Social Director, League Director and even served as the President in 2004 and 2005.

In fact, it was while he was President that one of Livio’s most proud moments at the club occurred. St Mary’s Junior club was named the largest AFL junior club in Australia with over 600 players.

“I always liked to tell people that it meant we were the biggest junior AFL club in the world, and the universe,” shared Livio with a laugh.

However, one of Livio’s most significant contributions to the St Mary’s community was his role in establishing our Senior Club. Phil Catenazzi recruited Livio and Tom Chapman who were eager to assist. After two attempts, they finally got an Under 19s team together in 2009 and thus the Senior Club was born, providing a pathway for St Mary’s Junior Club players to keep playing footy with their mates at the club they love.

“Winning out first game against Keon Park in 2009 was an incredible moment for all of us at the club.”

“It was a testament to the hard work and dedication of our St Mary’s community. I felt incredible proud of the club as a whole and it was a moment I will always cherish.”

While the club started seeing success on the field, it was still hard work off as the club didn’t have a home ground. Livio arranged games and training across 15 different locations until five years later they finally got Whatmough Park. Nevertheless, those early years were some of Livio’s favourite.

“Those first few years were certainly challenging at times but also very rewarding.”

“We faced many obstacles, but we had a fantastic community of volunteers who worked tirelessly to keep the club going.”

Livio’s contributions go even beyond establishing the Senior Club. While most recognise him today for manning the bar on a Thursday and Saturday, he is also the Team Manager for the U19s, a player advocate at the tribunal, and with 15 years of experience as a trainer, he still jumps in to help when needed.

Livio’s dedication has not gone unnoticed and in 2009, the Senior Club introduced the Livio Basile Award to honour his service. The award was a proud moment for Livio, and he was moved to tears when it was announced.

“I was deeply honoured when the Club named an award after me, but I’m even more proud that my legacy is about the volunteers who work tirelessly for the club year in and year out to make our club a success.”

Last year Livio was proud to see the Award go to Jess and Troy Bickerton who have been instrumental in ensuring we have a women’s team, something Livio is very proud to have witnessed.

“It’s fantastic to see our club become more inclusive, and to see the enthusiasm and passion for the game the women bring each week has been such a pleasure.”

“It’s such a great reminder of the importance of volunteering and therefore providing more opportunities for everyone to get involved in sports.”

Now, three decades later, Livio shows no signs of slowing down and is still here each week lending his support the Club.

“I just love the sport and the Club. St Mary’s has always been accepting, even of a quietly spoken man with Italian heritage whose name they couldn’t quite spell,” Livio shared.

“It’s also important for me to give the opportunity for our youth to play this great game. If people don’t volunteer, unfortunately it just doesn’t happen. There’s always a lack of volunteers and it’s just not in me to stand on the sidelines.”

“It’s been such a pleasure to watch the club continue to grow and I’m so proud to be part of it.”

Livio’s passion and dedication have made him an integral part of St Mary’s and his efforts have had a lasting impact on the lives of many, even if they don’t realise it. Without people like Livio we wouldn’t have a club today.

Livio’s story is a reminder of the vital role that volunteers play in community clubs. Let’s all take inspiration from Livio’s example and get more involved in our Club today!

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