For a number of years, Canberra has prided itself on being a ‘natural fit’ for women’s sport when compared with other places in Australia.
With no men’s teams in national basketball, cricket and football in Canberra, it was left to the women to do the heavy lifting over summer.
There has been an intense focus on women’s sport in Canberra, with unrivalled media coverage and exposure highlighting that theirs were the best games in town.
While this point was emphasised repeatedly, it didn’t often translate to crowds of people turning out to watch games live.
This season, though, possibly sparked by the visual impact and the experience of watching the Matilda’s on television and live, has seen the unleashing of a phenomenon in Canberra sport.
In October, a record crowd of 2282 flocked to the National Hockey Centre at Lyneham to watch the Canberra Chill men’s and women’s teams in the Hockey One league.
Having spent plenty of time at the hockey centre while involved in sports broadcasting for the ABC, the images of the fans flooding the hill on the far side of the stadium were remarkable.
It felt as though the crowd was significantly higher at the Canberra Chill women’s game as the team took on and beat the defending champions, NSW, 5-2.
Not to be outdone, a record crowd for a regular season game turned out to watch Canberra United play Perth Glory in the A-League Women’s competition.
A total of 2229 fans packed into McKellar Park. Again, the images were a sight to behold.
The UC Capitals have traditionally attracted significant and loyal crowds when games have been played at the AIS Arena.
While the Arena is out of action for what seems like an eternity, there are limitations on the crowd numbers at the National Convention Centre.
Nonetheless, the atmosphere was terrific at the NCC when 1702 fans filled the venue for the WNBL season opener on Sunday, 5 November, against Adelaide Lightning.
Although the Caps went down, it was close.
They lost 79-82, but fans will certainly be back for more as the game hung in the balance until the last second.
With big crowds turning out for hockey, football and basketball, the key for sports organisations is to ensure the experience is easy to undertake and enjoyable to entice the same fans back to every game.