The Navy football team made an impact on and off the field during their recent training and development camp in Hawaii.
As well as embracing the opportunity to accrue some valuable time on the pitch together ahead of this year’s ADF National Football championships, several Navy footballers also answered the call to help some Hawaiian locals mend a broken security gate.
On their first day on the island of Oahu, the Navy footballers were put through a rigorous training session at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to prepare them for their first match against the US Armed Forces Hawaii team and a team from the US Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Command.
Petty Officer Steven Sheakey was selected as team captain for the Royal Australian Navy open men’s team, while Able Seaman Chanelle Turner was selected to lead the mixed squad.
Game one was an extremely hard fought battle against the semi-professional US Armed Forces team, a combined outfit made up of players from the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Navy’s talent and tenacity was on display for the full 90 minutes in the hot and humid Hawaiian sun, but unfortunately for the Australian visitors the US Armed Forces demonstrated superior skills and athleticism and secured a 4-0 win.
A valiant effort from Royal Australian Navy goalkeeper Able Seaman Ainslie Buchanan kept the US’s goal tally modest, allowing the Aussie visitors to keep their heads high going into the second match.
Game two was another challenging battle in the heat for the mixed team.
The Aussies tasted victory this time around with a resounding 3-1 win over the Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Command team.
Director of Navy Football, Lieutenant Commander Jim Ford lead by example on the pitch, landing a precision strike in the back of the net in the second half.
Both games were tightly officiated by the Royal Australian Navy’s FIFA qualified referee, Lieutenant Commander Ned Sparkes.
Following historic tours of USS Missouri and the USS Arizona memorial, the Australians played a night time fixture against the US Marine Corps Kaneohe Bay team.
A great spectacle of football ensued for the spectators, with Able Seaman Stefanie Arteaga saying it was the best game she had seen in a long time.
The game was played in great spirit, with Navy dominating the early exchanges only to be sucker punched with 2 goals on the break.
Despite a valiant effort, the Aussies couldn’t recover the deficit, going down with a final score of 2-0 to the Marines.
In between match days, the players were given a day off to recover and explore the island.
Several players opted to hire cars and take in the breathtaking scenery and spend the night in a yurt (a type of round tent) in the middle of an avocado farm.
On their way back to Waikiki the next day, they crossed paths with some local residents who had a broken security fence.
“We were lost and a local couple offered their help,” Able Seaman Damien Edwards said.
“They mentioned in passing that their electric gate was broken and they were worried about the security of their home.
“Luckily, we had a Marine Technician (high power specialist) and two Electronic Technicians both trained in data cabling in our car.
Able Seaman Edwards and Leading Seaman Jason Button got to work on the gate, supervised by Petty Officer Sheakey and Lieutenant Christopher Abbott.
“After half an hour of splicing and reattaching cables, we tested the gate and it worked like a new one,” Able Seaman Edwards said.
“The locals were so ecstatic and thankful and it was great to share a beer and a laugh with them afterwards.
“It was definitely a proud moment to be in a foreign country and be able to assist in a way that gave something back to the local community.
“Afterwards, us four blokes sat down and looked at each other and said ‘that was an awesome feeling’,” Able Seaman Edwards said.
In the days that followed, the Navy teams lost 2-1 to the US Coast Guard before finding their form in a rematch with the US Marine Corps to avenge their earlier defeat with a 7-1 victory.
It was a great way to end the tour.
“Sport promotes so many of our core values: honesty, integrity, loyalty and most of all honour – the honour we have playing for our country, our service and the badge on our chest that says ‘Navy FFA’,” Able Seaman Edwards said.
“Activities like the Navy FFA development camp in Hawaii are fantastic for retention.”
“Being able to represent my service in sport makes me even more motivated to stay in,” he said.
Navy Football’s next major event is the 2019 ADF National Championships in October.
Interested players (current serving members and reservists) should contact Navy Football Federation Australia at NavyFFA@drn.mil.au.