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All Stars double header would give basketball a big boost

I'd heard all the false insinuations about our city before I moved to Canberra from Queensland two years ago. The general view of many interstaters is it's a sterile city full of politicians and public service workers, a place where entertainment goes to die.

While I'm happy to say I've found that stereotype far from the truth, it's about time our leading sports bodies come to the same conclusion.

The sports line-up assembled to help celebrate Canberra's centenary next year is great to see.

But the fact we've needed Canberra to turn 100 for it to be given the time of day is a disgrace.

I was staggered when told Australia's one-day clash with the West Indies in February will be the first time a fully fledged Aussie team will play in the national capital.

Ditto the Australian Kangaroos rugby league side, which will break its Canberra duck when it plays New Zealand at Canberra Stadium in April.


Also on the line-up is the women's Australian Open golf, a netball Test between Australia and New Zealand, the Brumbies' clash with the British and Irish Lions and four Greater Western Sydney AFL matches.

Let's hope it's not a sporting feast before Canberra is left to suffer in famine once again. Suddenly they don't seem quite as enticing.

It's like feeding a cat high quality canned food, and then asking it to return to eating dry biscuits.

Canberra remains an untapped sporting gold mine. The major cities are saturated with high-level events, but for our city the chance to see some of our national sports teams in action is a rare novelty.

If this city is to be taken seriously when the time comes to bargain for more events in the future, much of the responsibility rests with the fans.

By turning up to these events in droves, we can send an emphatic and clear message that we're desperate, and ready to host more top-level sport.

Word is the Australia-West Indies cricket clash is nearly sold out, and that's a fantastic start.

The popularity of 50-over cricket has decreased alarmingly since the explosion of Twenty20 cricket.

What looks better on TV and a better advertisement for the game? A jam-packed Manuka Oval, or 25,000 in the vacuous expanses of the MCG or SCG? Inexplicably, Darwin and Cairns have already hosted Test matches (albeit against minnow Bangladesh), while Canberra is still awaiting its chance.

Ask the players their opinion of Manuka Oval and their praise is lavish. So why has it been a dormant Test venue?

Soccer and basketball are the lone high-profile sports yet to come to the table for Canberra's centenary.

When Basketball Australia chief executive Kristina Keneally was in town a few weeks ago, I pitched to her the prospect of a NBL/WNBL All Stars double header in Canberra next year.

The intrigued look on her face suggested she thought the concept has some merit.

Thanks to the WNBL's Capitals, Canberra is regarded as one of women's basketball's leading markets. But since the disbanding of the NBL's Cannons, men's basketball in this city has been left high and dry.

Maybe this would be the ideal way to give basketball in this city a huge and deserved boost.