They often say football transcends sport and becomes a lifestyle for those who follow it. But it's rare we hear these stories in the A-League and it's even more surprising to hear from a club that doesn't exist yet: Canberra A-League bid boss, Michael Caggiano.
Caggiano is the director of Capital Region FC, Canberra's leading bid for an A-League team by 2022 and the only bid that is currently working directly with FFA.
He spearheaded the bid into national publicity over the past two weeks alongside partner Bede Gahan through strong political ties and positive meetings with A-League chief Greg O'Rourke.
Now known as the Canberra Region Football Collective, they have foreign and domestic investment behind them, even noting French giants Paris Saint Germain as prospective investors, and Caggiano has been clear recently that "it's not if, but when".
But with all that substance behind the saga, the emotion behind Caggiano's own involvement got somewhat lost in reports. Caggiano has been backing Canberra for the A-League for a very time and has witnessed first-hand two rejections by FFA over the past decade.
He may have left the bid altogether after Western United and Macarthur Bulls were chosen in the last round, but stayed because of a promise made to his grandfather, who died last year during the bid process.
"Throughout this process one of my grandfather's died. I was very close with him and he loved seeing me in the newspaper and on the TV progressing the bid,” Caggiano told the Sydney Morning Herald back in 2018.
“He loved seeing me on the news and the nurses would gather round to watch it with him, he just loved football."
Caggiano's grandfather was an Italian emigre who left a poor farming background in Italy to form a successful concreting business in the Australian capital.
“He instilled a lot of ‘old school’ values in me including a strong work ethic," Caggiano told the Riotact. "It was crushing, but at the same time we were given hope. We were the only non-Sydney and Melbourne bid on the short list.
"He came here and built something for us and he loved the city. That gave us extra energy to keep going when it became difficult.
"He was really proud of me and passed a few months ago but before he did I promised him I'd see it through and that’s what I’m doing.
"Canberra has been so supportive of my family and I wanted to give something back. We’re closer than ever now. Previously the path was unclear. The engagement with the FFA has been great.”
Caggiano also said that the bid was about changing Canberra's place on the Australian landscape, maturing the city as a genuine contender for livability and entertainment nestled between hotspots Sydney and Melbourne.
"It's about changing the perception of Canberra, how people think it's a small and closed-off city when it's really a vibrant, growing and multicultural city that has changed so much in the last few years," Caggiano said.
"There's a crane on every block and a new set of apartments every week, business is flourishing and we're one of the fastest growing cities in Australia.
"The investors we have are next level and they believe in Canberra because they've done their due diligence. Rich people are rich for a reason, because they make considerate and successful decisions every day.
"In terms of an update, in truth right now not much has changed," they posted on social media yesterday.
"We’ve been informed the decision on us joining the A-League as the next team rests directly with the FFA. To that end, what we can say is that we are working direct to FFA CEO James Johnson who has been excellent. He has also been upfront that it would take a bit of time before the FFA were in a position to make a decision. There has been some back-and-forward to clarify aspects of our proposal but no significant developments.
"Once we hear anything substantial, we will be quick to let you know. In the meantime, keep up the amazing support during this crucial time, it helps a lot.
"It’s time for Canberra."