Navy takes on Army and Air Force at ADF Aussie Rules big dance

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ben Willee (author), LEUT Sarah West (author), Steve McNeil (photographer)

Topic(s): Australian Rules Football

SMN Lachlan Borrillo of HMAS Cerberus handballs the Sherrin over the top of his Army opponents during the 2019 ADF National Championships in Melbourne. (photo: Steve McNeil)
SMN Lachlan Borrillo of HMAS Cerberus handballs the Sherrin over the top of his Army opponents during the 2019 ADF National Championships in Melbourne.

While the AFLW had its big dance on the weekend, Navy had a full dance card of its own with two teams competing at the Australian Defence Force Aussie Rules Football national championships in Victoria.

But unlike the Adelaide Crows, Navy’s women weren’t able to clinch the title against tough Army and Air Force outfits, with Army in particular dominating in their clash against Navy.

Coach of the Navy women’s team, Lieutenant Commander Elisabeth Quinn said despite the loss, Navy was building towards its 2020 goals.

“For Navy’s women, this carnival has been a tremendous success.

“Our measures of success were very clear and not always scores based, and I’m very pleased to say we achieved everything we set out to do,” Lieutenant Commander Quinn said.

“We had at least 12 girls that were brand new to the program, who helped reenergise our approach.

“Navy women’s football is definitely on the up, and this year is the foundation to build from,” she said.  

Leading Seaman Combat Information Systems Kelsie Wright said the professional environment provided to the Navy players was outstanding. 

“I’ve been playing footy for five years and this was best experience I have ever had.

“I’ve learnt more in these two weeks than in my entire career before that.

The professionalism of the coaching staff has been awesome and the team is made up of a fantastic group of girls who will be lifelong friends - I encourage everyone to have a go,” Leading Seaman Wright said.

The Navy men went one better, securing a win against Air Force before their ambitions for the championship trophy were smothered by Army. 

Men’s coach, Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics Chef Michael Oleksyn, said the Royal Australian Navy Australian Football Association (RANAFA) had come a long way over the years.

“We’ve had a fantastic fortnight of playing and training with the boys and we’re building a very solid foundation for the future of Navy Footy.

“I’ve been an Aussie Rules fan all my life and have been involved with Navy footy for 31 years.

“It’s changed immensely since I started playing in the 80s. Nowadays it’s very professional and we’re not just building the future leaders of Navy Football, we’re building the future leaders of Navy,” Chief Petty Officer Oleksyn said.

Four of Tony Borrillo’s five children are in the Australian Defence Force and he said he felt fortunate to be able to watch Leading Aircraftsman Bradley Borrillo playing for RAAF against his twin brother Seaman Lachlan Borrillo in the Navy team.

“We’ve come from South Australia to watch our boys play footy.

“We’re immensely proud of them, but it’s difficult to watch them play against each other.

“It was a tough game and they were into each other a bit, more than we wanted them to be anyway,” Mr Borrillo said.

Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral David Johnston, is the Patron of RANAFA. He said AFL in the ADF had never been healthier.

“The opportunities we provide for our people are excellent and that’s reflected in the many members who are playing at an elite level. 

“I am very proud to be part of an organisation that promotes such high calibre competition.

“It’s wonderful to see the men and women of the three services come together and demonstrate to us their elite athleticism and teamwork. 

“These are the ingredients that make a successful defence force,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

The best men’s and women’s players from the three services have now been selected into the ADF All Stars teams.

The next women’s event will be the ADF All Stars versus the Richmond VFLW team at Punt Road oval on the 24th of April.

The next men’s game will see the ADF All Stars go up against a Combined Emergency Services Team as the curtain raiser to the Port Adelaide Vs North Melbourne AFL match at Adelaide Oval on the 26 April. 

2019 Australian Defence Force Aussie Rules Football National Championships Scores:


Women’s RAAF 4.6.30 defeated Navy 3.6.24
Women’s Army 10.10.70 defeated Navy 0.1.1


Men’s Navy 18.15.123 defeated RAAF 9.10.64
Men’s Army 07.09.51 defeated Navy 4.6.30