The Kanga Cup, the largest International Youth Football tournament in the Southern Hemisphere, has become an institution in Canberra.
From humble beginnings in 1991 to the present day, it has become an overwhelming Canberra-initiated success story.
The statistics are mind-blowing.
This year the tournament is edging closer to returning to pre-COVID numbers with 295 teams competing.
There will be 1099 games, 150 referees, 4000 players and 47 grounds in six hubs.
So with 4000 players bringing families along for the ride, the visitation numbers are extraordinary.
The tournament has been a boon for Canberra tourism, accommodation is stretched and restaurants are packed with visiting families this week.
Despite the overwhelming case for significant ACT Government funding, it has been a tough sell for Capital Football.
Historically, one of the longstanding issues for many years has been the cost of field hire which, at times, has been hard to comprehend given the financial return the tournament brings to Canberra.
Capital Football CEO Ivan Slavich said it’s an issue that continues to this day.
“We pay $50,000 to $70,000 for ground hire during the tournament,” said Ivan.
“We receive less than that in Government funding to stage the event.
“The government pays $2.8 million a year for GWS to play at Manuka … yet we are putting thousands of people into accommodation in Canberra in the middle of winter for the week of the Kanga Cup.”
There has been interest from rival regional centres looking to snare the lucrative event away from Canberra. The offers have been well in excess of the funding received from the ACT Government, but Capital Football owns the rights to the Kanga Cup and Ivan Slavich said the tournament won’t be leaving the city.
“Certainly, from a Capital Football perspective, we are keen to see it stay in Canberra. Commercially we are making sure the tournament covers its costs.”
To that end, KeepUp, the A-League’s app, has come on board as a sponsor and will stream the Kanga Cup finals for the first time.
It will be mandatory viewing for talent scouts, a number of whom are already in Canberra for the week.
Meantime, the ACT Government is conducting an economic impact study assessing how much the tournament brings to the city this week.
Go to any of the 47 grounds being used by the Kanga Cup or a shopping mall and the answer is somewhat obvious.
To find out more about the Kanga Cup 2023, visit Kanga Cup.