Soccer fans across the capital have been waiting for this weekend, with a football double header on Saturday afternoon, beginning with a Women’s League curtain raiser between Canberra United and Melbourne City at 3pm, and the highly anticipated A League match between the Central (aka Capital) Coast Mariners and the Wellington Phoenix at 5.30pm.
The RiotACT has three double passes to giveaway (see below).
It’s set to be a blockbuster match, after the Mariners stunned onlookers last weekend with a 2-1 victory over reigning champions Adelaide United. It was a big win for the team and their new coach, former Socceroos captain Paul Okon.
Direct flights from Wellington to Canberra are expected to bring planeloads of Kiwis, and local football fanatics are counting the days as they celebrate the return of the A League to the nation’s capital after a seven year absence.
It’s the first time an A League game has been played in Canberra since 2009, when the Mariners hosted two home matches against Perth Glory and Adelaide United.
Since then, our small population has been attributed as the reason we are undeserving of our own local team. This seems unfair, given that Capital Football (the governing body of football in the National Capital) states that we now have “a record number of participants, making it the largest outdoor sport in the ACT and its surrounding regions.”
But progress is being made.
The ACT Government and Capital Football have been working with Mariners’ CEO Shaun Mielekamp to establish a relationship that would see a number of the Mariner’s games played at Canberra Stadium. First up are Saturday’s match against Wellington and a second fixture on 5th February against Adelaide United.
The double header this weekend is expected to draw crowds of well over 10,000, including the Chief Minister Andrew Barr and a number of dignitaries.
Another key attendee will be the Mariners’ Business Development Ambassador and die-hard football fan, Ivan Slavich. Mr Slavich is a high profile Canberra businessman, and was a key backer in the city’s 2012 campaign to create a local A League team.
Mr Slavich has embraced the Mariners as a key step towards bringing A League football back to Canberra.
However, he reminds us that unless we get behind the team and show our support, the numbers will reflect a disinterest in the sport and prove to the FFA (Football Federation of Australia) that we are too small to host a team.
“The Mariners are a team dedicated to embracing Canberra,” says Mr Slavich. “They are hosting two of their biggest matches here, and routinely pick the best players from our local clubs to trial with the team.
They are more Canberra than any other national team.
If Canberrans are really keen to have A League football in Canberra, then we need to support them. Vote with your feet, go to the game and prove to the nation that we are deserving.”
Given its proximity to Remembrance Day, the match will also pay tribute to fallen soldiers and observe a minutes’ silence before kick-off.
Tickets to the double header can be purchased from Ticketek from just $15.20. Unless the match sells out, you will be able to buy tickets at the gate, too.
Corporate tickets start at $175. For full details or to book, contact Mr Slavich on 0414 514 555 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RiotACT is giving away three double passes to the match.
To enter, simply leave a comment below explaining what having a local A League team in Canberra means to you.
Entries close Thursday midnight and winners will be announced on Friday.