THE sporting landscape in Canberra next year is going to be something the like we have never experienced before and it could have a telling impact in years to come.
It is not just the plethora of major sport as part of the Centenary Celebrations, but there are significant changes afoot at the Australian Institute of Sport. And there is the anticipation of the Brumbies, the Raiders, Canberra United, the Capitals and the Cavalry all doing well.
The AIS changes could have a dramatic impact with national sporting organisations taking control of their sports. This means sports such as swimming, basketball and soccer will need to decide whether they will continue with their residential programs at the AIS.
Hard going in mixed seasons
CANBERRA United and the Capitals have had mixed seasons so far.
After going through last season undefeated, United is finding the going tough this season, the loss of goalkeeper Lydia Williams has been a telling blow. There is also the possibility that the team could be looking for a new coach after this season, with the search on for a replacement for national coach Tom Sermanni.
Lauren Jackson is yet to make an appearance for the Capitals and there is the strong possibility that we may not see her on the court until next year as she battles injury. Without Jackson it has been hard going for the Capitals; with her on the court they are a totally different team.
Raiders need a strong start
THE Raiders don’t want to go through what they went through this year with a slow start, injuries and speculation about coach David Furner. The side scrambled into the finals, but it could have been easier if they had won a few games earlier in the season. The Raiders need Terry Campese fit and it’s obvious their start to the season needs to be far better.
If I was going to make a prediction about a player, Anthony Milford is definitely one to watch, but Jack Wighton showed glimpses of what he is capable of and could be one of the stars next season.
New recruit boosts Brumbies
THE Brumbies have been bolstered by the recruitment of David Pocock but they need Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano on the field. When the Brumbies lost their playmakers last season it was telling. The return of Clyde Rathbone is an added attraction; he says he has never felt fitter.
From what I have seen at pre-season under Dean Benton, the side will be again be one of the fittest. The game against the British and Irish Lions will be an added attraction for supporters.
Sport right to script
ORGANISERS of the sporting events for the Centenary Celebrations couldn’t have scripted next year any better.
For years, I have been saying that if you want people in Canberra to come to sport you have to make it into an event, there needs to be something extra, not simply “here’s the event, buy your tickets”.
The Australian Ladies Golf Open in February at Royal Canberra will be part of the LPGA circuit, which means the world’s top players have a reason to come to Australia to play in the open.
The Prime Minister’s XI game has been elevated with the selection of Ricky Ponting as skipper with Brad Haddin keen to play. The game will be the first under lights at Manuka, and then eight days later, Australia plays the West Indies at the ground.
The Australian netball side will play NZ for the first time in Canberra. The Australian Rugby League team will play the Kiwis for the first time in Canberra.
If the events are supported, the chances are they will be back, if they are not well attended it could be years before we see such major events in Canberra.