Soccer in the Australian Capital Territory
|Soccer in the Australian Capital Territory|
|Governing body||Capital Football|
|Representative team||Australian Capital Territory|
|Registered players||15,299 (2007)|
|Single match||20,032 (5 March 2009). 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualification Australia v Kuwait (Bruce Stadium, Canberra)|
Soccer in the ACT is predominantly amateur with local competitions organised by Capital Football involving teams from within the ACT and from the region of New South Wales. Occasionally, teams based in the ACT have competed in interstate and national competitions.
There is currently no ACT-based team competing in the men's A-League national competition, a consortium failed in a bid to join the league for the 2010-11 season.
Previously, Canberra-based teams of Canberra City (1977–1986) and Canberra Cosmos (1995–2001) competed in the National Soccer League with limited success. The Canberra Eclipse competed in the Women's National Soccer League from 1996 to 2000. Inter Monaro, who competed in the NSL in 1985-86, are often referred to as an 'ACT' team although were actually based in Queanbeyan just over the border.
Canberra has been suggested as a possible location for a new franchise in an expansion of the A-League for the 2008/09 season, along with Townsville, Wollongong, Hobart, Geelong and the Gold Coast.  
A pathway for Canberran players into national level competition has been established through A-League club Central Coast Mariners. Former manager Lawrie McKinna stated his intention to offer a trial with the Mariners to two players from the ACT Premier League each year, starting from 2007. Capital Football is also seeking to establish long-term agreements with Sydney FC for player pathways and competition matches. An A-League Preseason Cup group match between Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets was played in 2006 at Canberra Stadium, and again in 2007 between Sydney and Central Coast. The Mariners played two regular season matches at Canberra Stadium in 2009.
Competitions operated through Capital Football are at various levels based on player ages, and generally are played from April to September.
The ACT has a strong junior competition with a comparatively large number of registered players. Competitions are organised by age-group:
- Rooball for Under-5/6 to Under-12 age groups, which is normally run in the actual clubs.
- Boys Junior leagues from the age of 13–17 years, with divisions 1-3 in most age groups.
- Girls Junior leagues from the age of 12–17 years, with divisions from 1-2 in most age groups.
Capital Football also organises the Kanga Cup International Youth Football Tournament held annually in Canberra since 1991. The open invitation tournament caters for male and female players from ages 10 to 18, featuring teams from the Canberra region, across Australia and international teams.
The highest football competition is the ACT Premier League, contested by amateur clubs from the local region. Premier League clubs are generally also required to field teams in age-limited divisions of Premier Pathway League and Premier U18. Below the Premier League is the State League consisting of Divisions 1 to 10. Masters divisions are also operated for players aged over 35 with three divisions and an over-45 league.
The Federation Cup is generally held as a pre-season cup for Premier League and higher level State League teams. Competing teams will be placed into pools, with the winner of each pool proceeding to a finals series.
A similar structure operates for women's football. The highest level is the Premier League, which is the elite division with Premier League Reserves and Premier League under-18 competitions also held. Below this, four State League divisions are played and also a Masters competition. Pre-season cups are also run annually, open for teams in all grades.
Futsal leagues are run for men, women and children, for all different skill levels including a Premier League for senior men and women.
From time to time, ACT based clubs have participated in NSW premier competitions including Canberra City (1987), Canberra Deakin (1988–94) and most recently Belconnen Blue Devils (2000–05) and Tuggeranong United FC (2014).
The football program of the Australian Institute of Sport is based in the ACT and draws on local and interstate players. The program is not affiliated with the Capital Football competitions, although non-competition matches are occasionally played against local club sides. The AIS team competes in higher level leagues in other states, previously in NSW and Victoria and will play in the Victorian Premier League in 2007.
With the introduction of the FFA Cup in 2014, the ACT are granted one place in the competition, which is given to the winners of the Federation Cup. Having lifted the Federation Cup in 2013, Tuggeranong United FC will be playing South Hobart FC in the first round of the 2014 competition.
ACT representative teams often compete at national junior level competitions. The playing strip yellow and blue with white trim, representing the colours of the ACT flag. A senior ACT Rockets team has been formed in 2008 and 2009 for friendly matches against visiting teams, selected from players competing in the ACT Premier League.
Elite footballing programs aimed at talent identification and development are run through Capital Football with ACT Government assistance drawing on local players. The 'ACT Academy of Sport' provides development scholarships into men's and women's youth teams, and the 'Capital Football High Performance Program' runs programs for junior players.
- "Tackling a rich and powerful foe". The Canberra Times. 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "ASA announce several significant initiatives".
- "A-League expansion on agenda".
- A. Flanagan (12 May 2007). "Mariners offer local talent a shot at A-League". The Canberra Times.
- A. Flanagan (24 April 2007). "Capital time for deal with Sydney". The Canberra Times.
- "AIS get VPL spot".
- Capital Football website
- Kanga Cup website
- Capital Football Referees website
- Canberra's A-League Bid website