Canberrans will be able to immerse themselves in the Territory’s football community with free watch parties to cheer on the Matildas during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The ACT Government opted not to apply to host live matches in the Capital, but it has partnered with the University of Canberra (UC) to host live indoor events at the UC Refectory. It means everyone can watch the Matildas on the big screen as they take on Ireland on 20 July and Nigeria on 27 July.
UC director of sport Carrie Graf said the space would be prepared to fit 300 screaming fans, but capacity could be boosted to 1000 if the community showed enough interest.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be having their own watch parties at home, but this is a great chance to come and be part of the football community,” she said.
The games will be projected onto a large indoor screen with plenty of seating and viewing areas.
There will also be activities for all ages and abilities to enjoy before and during the game, as well as food and drink available on site.
Ms Graf said organisers wanted to make the experience as close as possible to being in the stadium.
“We’re aiming to create that real sense of being at the game,” she said.
While just the two games are locked in at the UC Refectory at the moment, the university plans on working with the government and other partners to offer the indoor screening location for more matches if the Matildas make it through to the later stages of the tournament.
The watch parties are part of a partnership which includes the UC Refectory’s PLAY ON! exhibition, which celebrates the history of women’s football.
The exhibition features videos of former Matildas from the Canberra region speaking about their journey to the professional level, the history of local clubs, and also takes a look at coaches and administrative teams that support women’s football.
Sports Minister Yvette Berry said given the university was home to elite athletes and professional sporting teams, as well as providing sport education and sports science research, the partnership was a perfect fit.
“The UC Watch Parties will give Canberra’s football fans the opportunity to come together to celebrate and get behind our magnificent Matildas,” she said.
The exhibition is open from now until 31 August to coincide with the Women’s World Cup.
The government will also set up a live site in Garema Place for games featuring the Matildas during the elimination rounds.
More details about this watch site are to come.