Rain, sub-zero temperatures and 14-0 floggings. The Kanga Cup has thrown nearly everything at 17-year-old Lachlan Vrkic, who is playing in his sixth-consecutive tournament for Marist College.
Vrkic was just another excited footballer when he first pulled on the blue-and-blue for the Kanga Cup opening ceremony six years ago.
The Kanga Cup has grown to the largest junior football tournament in the southern hemisphere in that time, with 324 teams and around 4,500 players participating in this year's event.
But for Vrkic, nothing has changed.
He plays alongside the same group of boys, at the same venues and they still get thrashed.
"We don't take it as seriously as our normal competition," Vrkic said.
"It's enjoyment throughout the holidays and gives us a break. It's great because we're not doing nothing in the holidays, we're hanging out with each other and keeping fit.
"There's a group of five who have played together every year since the under-12s to under-18s. It's a pretty good competition."
Marist College are the only team from the ACT in the under-18s cup this year and will compete against seven sides from New South Wales for the title.
But history is not in their favour. One year Marist College played in a tough pool against Sydney and Melbourne clubs and "got absolutely flogged," including a 14-0 loss.
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But another time the team were down one-nil and nearly lost hope when their keeper got a red-card. The goalie went outside the box and hand-balled it on a one-on-one. The Canberrans bounced back and won the match 2-1.
Vrkic said the competition is strong again this year but hasn't completely written off their chances.
"We're not expecting to win because there's a lot of tough interstate competition but we'll give it our best crack," Vrkic said.
"It's unusual that there aren't any other teams from the ACT this year, normally there's a few."
Whatever happens, Vrkic will have another chance to win the tournament when he plays his last Kanga Cup next year.
It will his seventh straight tournament and half the team will change as the new year-11s come through.
"I'll definitely miss the Kanga Cup and the group of boys who I play with," Vrkic said.
Meanwhile Marist College's under-18s are placed second on goal difference in the local junior league. The school's elite players were offered the opportunity to trial with local clubs for the Canberra premier league but chose to stay and represent the school.
Vrkic believes it's their strong bond through school and football that keeps the tight-knit group together.
"It's a strong community at Marist College and that's what everyone accepts," Vrkic said.
"We're with each other all of the time so we'd rather play with our mates rather than guys from other clubs."
Charles Bootes, who is Marist College's head of football, said the student's camaraderie has strengthened through the sports program.
"It's great for us because we get the best boys who are passionate to wear the blue-and-blue and show what it means to be a Marist boy in the Canberra competition," Bootes said.
"Some of the team have played together since year-four and still play at lunchtime.
"There's a big community presence in the club and the school. It's a reoccurring pride that's fostered into the boys as well."
Marist College lost their opening two matches against Wakehurst FC and Liverpool Olympic. The Canberran side will take on Central Coast Sports College and Gladesville Sharks on Tuesday.