Volleyball pride on the line in India

This article has photo gallery Published on POET Olivia Usback (author), ABEW Matthew Hagglund (photographer)

Location(s): Mumbai, India

HMAS Newcastle plays against INS Betwa in a friendly game of volleyball at the Indian Naval Base in Mumbai, India. (photo: ABEW Matthew Hagglund)
HMAS Newcastle plays against INS Betwa in a friendly game of volleyball at the Indian Naval Base in Mumbai, India.

With a blast of a whistle inside the humid Kohli Stadium, Navy Nagar – Mumbai, on 26 April a heated game of volleyball began between the navies of Australia and India.  It was an ideal opportunity to continue to develop international relations between Australia and India as HMAS Newcastle conducted a port visit to Mumbai, India on her way to the Middle East for an Operation MANITOU rotation.

HMAS Newcastle put together a team of volleyball players to meet their local host ship INS Betwa on the volleyball court.

The event was supported by members from each crew, and a small crowd of local on base spectators.

It didn’t take long to discover that Betwa’s team contained some of their finest volleyball players, who besides having the hometown advantage, also possessed the finesse and skills to represent India on the international volleyball court. Despite a few heroic individual efforts by Newcastle’s team, as visitors we were simply outmatched. The final whistle blew with the Indian team being announced as the victors.

Following the competitive game, teams were formed with a mix of Newcastle and Betwa members who went on to play a further two matches, both of which finished with extremely close score lines.

Whilst it would have been nice for Newcastle to have come away with a victory, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Jared Ford acknowledged that the highlight of the sporting match for him was when the children who came to watch the game asked him for his autograph.  

“It made me feel like a rock star,” he said. 

The post-game celebrations were then underway for spectators and players alike, with the Indian Navy providing some tasty dishes and local delicacies.

Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara said the relaxed atmosphere complimented their formal tasking during the visit.

“The celebratory spirit provided members of both navies the opportunity to mix and mingle with their foreign counterparts, which is by far the most important part of international port visits," he said.

“Although the result didn’t go our way today, the efforts in the oppressive heat made Navy proud and strengthened our relationship with the Indian Navy.”

HMAS Newcastle is now on task in the Middle East providing maritime security support to Operation MANITOU.