Soccer is flourishing in the ACT as the sport’s governing body looks to prioritise the health of the local leagues over a Canberra based A-League bid.
Capital Football chief executive Phil Brown revealed further details of the city’s relationship with the Central Coast Mariners, including regular coaching clinics and community engagements as well as hosting the Remembrance round clash with Wellington Phoenix in November and another against defending champions Adelaide United early next year.
“For us the focus is around A-League in Canberra and where there might not be a realisation of an A-League team of Canberra,” he said. “People still get exposure from the highest level of football in the men’s side to complement our Canberra United W-League program.”
The governing body is exploring ways to further the relationship with the Mariners and both are in talks to organise a preseason game here.
Capital Football is also realistic about its chances of securing an upcoming Socceroos World Cup qualifier while an ACT government spokesperson said discussions with Football Federation Australia continue.
“This is a competitive process, and while the ACT government would like to host the Socceroos again, we have to weigh up the costs of bringing matches to Canberra.”
Brown agreed with this sentiment and said the focus for him was to support the local engagement of the sport.
“Should the government decide to pursue an opportunity to bring a Socceroos or Matildas match to Canberra in the future we would certainly support that, but we also appreciate the financial consideration of bidding against other states for national team content.”
Despite the city not having an A-League representation, the popularity of football in the capital continues to grow with the success of the local leagues.
Just two points separates the four sides pushing for league glory on top of the premier division, and Brown said the league’s competitiveness “unifies the football community”.
The capital’s annual youth football festival kicks off Sunday for a week of matches, coaching workshops, and networking events.
The festival claims to be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere with up to 380 teams from across Australia and overseas. The opening ceremony will begin at midday on Sunday with music performances, food stalls, and an inflatable football pitch.
“For the first time ever we’ve got entries from every state and territory, which is very exciting and a great recognition of the reach the Kanga Cup has,” said Brown.
Meanwhile, Canberra Olympic will stake their claim as a football powerhouse when they take on Surfers Paradise Apollo later this month in the FFA Cup round of 32.
© 2016 Canberra Times | This article was written by James Hall and first appeared on the Canberra Times website on 1 July 2016.