Playing against traditional rivals the Australian Combined Emergency Services, in front of an estimated 12,000 people, the Australian Defence Force Aussie Rules All-Stars men’s team has won the Anzac Challenge trophy for the fourth consecutive year.
The Defence Team led for the first half, with the Emergency Services taking the lead late in the third quarter. However, the All-Stars managed to reverse the momentum and came from behind to win with a final score of 8.5 - 53 to 5.12 - 42.
Played as a curtain raiser to the AFL block buster between Port Adelaide and Carlton at Adelaide Oval, the Defence players were determined to keep the trophy having won the previous three encounters.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Fry who has played Australian Defence Force representative football for more five years said it was an amazing experience to have played in all four recent wins against such an honourable opponent.
The All-Stars Coach, Army Sergeant James Debono, said he was inspired by the way the team played and lived up to the team’s ethos of discipline, pride, respect and professionalism.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of how the guys played and how they dug deep in the last quarter, even though they were tired they lifted in front of the huge crowd to bring home a win for the Australian Defence Force,” said Army Sergeant James Debono.
Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Harvey-Bickley's efforts were reflective of the team’s ethos, providing one of the best individual four quarters of football the coaching staff had seen from a Defence footballer, and awarded the team’s most valuable player. Gunner Travis Thone-Kaine was awarded the Matt Hall Player's Player Trophy by his team mates for his consistent tough, hard, at-the-ball game.
Flight Lieutenant Mark Bignell said it was a huge honour to represent the Australian Defence Force during the AFL's Anzac Round.
The annual Anzac Challenge is the highest level of representation for Defence Australian Rules Football players and the Australian Defence Force Men’s team once again benefited from a week preparing for the game with the Port Adelaide AFL Club.
Australian Defence Force Australian Rules Chairman, Major General Matt Hall, said that the event presented members from all three services with a unique opportunity to compete at the highest level on an AFL venue before a large crowd, importantly as part of the Anzac Day commemorations.
“We thank all our sponsors, Australian Military Bank, Deloitte, Bruck Textiles, KPMG, Thales, ISC, Aspen Medical and DIA, whose support greatly assisted with making the ADF Anzac Challenge possible,” said Major General Hall.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Harriss' service to the nation was honoured by being invited to toss the coin at the start of the game between Port Adelaide and Carlton.