As most Italians know, growing up in an Italian family consists of lots of family love, lots of food and craziness and passion for sports, especially the beautiful game of Soccer. My father Joseph demanded that we all be at the dinner table for a 5:00 pm sharp weekday and a 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon dinners where we would get to enjoy my mother Marias amazing cooking and talk about how the day or how the week was for everyone.
My father Joseph, a hard working man who did everything in his power to provide us with an amazing upbringing and a loving household to this day. He volunteered many hours in the Italian Community including coaching for many years in the ever so famous Italian Canadian Sports Federation (I.C.S.F.) Italian League`s Interregional Tournament and always stressed to us how important family is. He repeatedly taught us to be respected you need to give respect, which explains why I am so proud to say that he is one of the most respected men I know.
My mother Maria, a stay at home mom, made raising 3 very active boys look incredibly easy. As in most Italian families, us boys didn’t lift a finger. Not only did she maintain an immaculate household, always cooked an overabundance amount of food, but most importantly always had time for us and made us feel so incredibly loved.
Sport was an integral part of our lives. My father introduced us to soccer at a very early age which we all enjoyed playing. He always encouraged us to play many sports which we did at school and with local clubs. From Floor Hockey to Baseball, Basketball to Golf, Volleyball to Tennis, Johnny and I seemed to pick them up quite easily and were usually pretty good at mostly everything we played but my brother Domenic was “Great”. From being asked to travel to Mexico at age 9 with another soccer club, being an integral part of his club soccer teams winning many Provincial and National Championships, to leading both many of his Elementary and High School sports teams to numerous City and Provincial championships, he simply was a winner.
He scored in the first ever professional game played and never looked back finishing his career scoring 170 goals in 14 seasons – the 2nd highest scorer in North America professional Soccer history only behind the great Giorgio Chinaglia. In 1989, he was a key member of the team that went 46 straight games without a loss, to this day a North American professional sports record. In 1991 he set the scoring record with 25 goals in 28 games earning the CSL MVP.
After retiring from the game he absolutely loved in 2001, Dom took on the role of Technical Director of Coquitlam City soccer where he had an uncanny ability to get the best out of children all while keeping the fun in the game. Before his passing, Dom had a huge hand in the merger of both the Coquitlam City and Metro Ford soccer clubs, one of the most successful and biggest clubs in BC.
Nov 13th 2004 the day that changed my family’s life forever! It was a normal Saturday just like any other. Domenic and I lived together in Coquitlam at the time and woke up thinking of all the errands we needed to do before we had to play our soccer game. I was in heaven as I had the opportunity to play with my brother on a weekly basis, something I dreamed about since I was little. We always drove to the games together but because it was in Richmond for a 2:00 pm kickoff and I had a function to attend at the Italian Cultural Center that night, we decided that it would be best to drive separately so I could then get ready at my parents to able to make it. As we were playing I noticed that Dom was off and asked if everything was ok, he replied that all was good but had some heart burn and couldn’t shake it, not thinking anything of it, I said maybe you should take a break but because of the competitor that he was, he stayed on playing the full game not wanting to let us down. Even though you could tell he was struggling he still managed to score a goal to tie the game for us. Still looking off after the game, I asked if he was ok, where he replied “no worries Tone, I’ll be ok, see you tomorrow. “ Not knowing these will be the last words we ever speak.
Just like every game that we played or coached together, Domenic and I would always talk either at home or on the phone to assess the performance, but because I was in such a rush to get to my parents, I figured I would call him after I got ready. At about 5 pm, I gave him a call where it rang with no pickup, thinking that was a bit weird because he always answered his phone but put it off thinking he might be showering. Again 15 minutes later, the same with no answer, I must of called him 30 times within the next hour sensing something was wrong but never imagined in a million years the news I received 15 minutes later as a good friend of mine Tony Raffele came to the Italian Center to tell me that my brother had passed in a car accident, minutes after leaving his friend’s house. My first thought was that this can’t be true and then I absolutely broke down, not knowing what to do I just sobbed alone for a while. The rest of the night was an absolute blur but will never forget bearing the worst ever news possible to my brother Johnny, Domenic’s twin and my parents. I will never forget Johnny’s scream and unstoppable crying on the other end of the phone and witnessing the life being sucked out of my parent’s right in front of my eyes and not being able to help or comfort them.
During my many sleepless night, I began to question everything, from faith, to why it couldn’t have happened on the field seeing that we had 3 firemen playing with us or when he was in the car with Peter. I would purposely not go to family functions knowing deep down I should be around the people that love me most but simply couldn’t handle being at place where my brother should be at.
Didn’t know when or if ever I would be able to manage my feelings but, two profound things happened. My brother has not come to me in many dreams but the one night he did, I remember waking up from a dead sleep and seeing him at my door asking me to “ Wake up” It seemed so real that I said Dom your back, he again replied “ Just Wake – Up “ and he was gone! The second was at one of our Annual Golf Tournaments we hold in his honor, I write a Thank You Speech and in my toast to him I found this write up by David Harkins;
“You can shed tears that he is gone, or you can smile because he lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back or you can open your eyes and see all the he has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone or you can cherish his memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind be empty and turn your back or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on”.
Within days of the dream happening, I met my beautiful wife Kyla who has given me the four best blessings ever, herself and my 3 beautiful kids. And as soon as I read that great poem from David Harkins, something clicked and made me realize that this is how I need to celebrate Domenic’s life and to enjoy the great memories we had and what has always been important to us our family. His message was clear that night “Wake Up “and enjoy what you have not what you can’t.
They say the measure of a man is by the number of friends he has. Dom had thousands, evidenced by the number in attendance at his funeral and the thousands that wrote in the tribute on the Metro Fords clubs website. He has been inducted in the BC Sports Hall of Fame, The Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the Whitecaps retiring his number 10, the Whitecaps Ring Of Honor, The Domenic Mobilio Golden Boot, his actual soccer boot, presented to the Whitecaps top goal scorer annually, The Metro Ford Soccer club holding an Annual Domenic Mobilio Friendship tournament, the naming of a Domenic Mobilio field at the Town Center Complex and every single boy and girl attending the spring and summer camps held by the Metro Ford Soccer Club get a t shirt with his famous # 10 and Mobilio on the back are a testament of the person he was.
Coming full circle to the present, a Big Thank You to my parents as I never really understood or appreciated why they demanded that we all be at the dinner table while growing up! I now realize the importance of it as it is a time that we can sit and talk and most importantly spend quality time together. I look around the table at our weekly dinners and see my parents, the strongest people I know, my brother Johnny, his wife Norma, their daughters Iolanda and Alexandria, my wife Kyla, our children Domenic, Natalia and Isobella with a beautiful picture of my brother Domenic on the wall next to the table and realize how lucky we are to be surrounded by the people who love you the most and to have had the honor and privilege of 35 years with my beautiful brother Domenic and being able to call him a son and a brother, my brother.
By: Tony Mobilio