Thousands of junior footballers were welcomed by the scent of eucalyptus and the fumes of an indigenous smoking ceremony as they marched around Reconciliation Place for the Kanga Cup curtain-raiser.
Meanwhile Canberra's first indigenous junior football team, the Koori Kangaroos, were stretching and warming-up for their tournament debut on the eastern lawn of Old Parliament House.
The Kanga Cup held its opening ceremony at John Dunmore Lang Place on Sunday with 324 teams and around 4,500 players set to feature at the largest tournament in the southern hemisphere.
The annual tournament coincides with NAIDOC week this year, giving indigenous Australians another avenue to celebrate and raise awareness of their culture.
The Koori Kangaroos is the first indigenous team to participate in the Kanga Cup. The team is a collation of different ages and gender and will play in the under-12s shield.
The Kangaroos only came together an hour before their opening match against New Zealand's Meadowbank United, but assistant coach Kelly Stirton said their campaign isn't about the scoreline.
"The Kanga Cup gives them an opportunity to celebrate who they are," Stirton said.
"Recognition of inclusiveness throughout the community [is important] but also that the kids have fun. It's a big learning curve and experience for them."
Capital Football approached Ngunnawal woman Selina Walker from Tuggeranong United, asking whether she knew any indigenous players interested in the Kanga Cup.
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Walker said the reaction from the indigenous community was overwhelming and they're hoping to build on the initiative next year.
"It's a step forward for reconciliation to have an identified group participating and representing our people," Walker said.
"Representation gives us a voice that works towards reconciliation and bringing about the truth. Events like this are a big conversation starter, and through conversations comes education and awareness.
"It's groundbreaking to have a team in the Kanga Cup and to have it played in the capital, where the Ngunnawal people are the traditional owners, is a massive sense of pride."