Sitting in a near-empty Canberra Stadium in the final throes of the Cosmos in the National Soccer League, it was almost impossible to imagine that we would find ourselves on the verge of being part of a new competition.
In that final season in 2000/2001, support for the Canberra team had dwindled to die-hard fans, family and friends.
To awaken the sleeping giant in Canberra sport after a slumber of 18 years is no mean feat.
As we await the verdict from Football Federation Australia on two new teams for an expanded A-League, there is optimism that I have rarely witnessed involving a Canberra side getting into any national sporting competition for many years.
A major breakthrough, it would appear, is the enthusiastic backing of the bid by Capital Football. Capital Football, at first, adopted what appeared to be a hands-off approach, saying their focus was on competitions such as the Youth League and the W League.
Capital Football chair, Mark O’Neill, reflected his optimism about the Canberra/Southern NSW bid at the presentation night last week with the perception that it was more a case of when it was going to happen and not if. The theory being that if Canberra is not admitted to the A-League next month the groundwork has already been done for admission at a later date. This is particularly relevant as the competition is to eventually feature double the number of teams that exist at the moment.
Those closely involved in the bid are quietly confident though, that it will happen in this round of expansion with the belief that they have satisfied every criteria required.
They have investors locked in, they have a coaching structure set in place, there is already a deal in place to play at Canberra Stadium, they have a training facility at the AIS, they have established a merchandise framework, the ACT Government has pledged support, there is an alignment with the Australian Sports Foundation, and most importantly, they have community support.
So far 7,545 people have pledged their support for the fledgeling team by becoming Foundation Members.
There is a perception within football circles that the Canberra bid is the most advanced of any of the six bids remaining in the race for the two places on offer in an expanded A-League.
I know some have restrained themselves from becoming overly optimistic given the disappointment of previous bids. But there are genuine reasons why it is worth investing in emotional support and optimism towards this current bid.
Original Article published by Tim Gavel on the RiotACT.