Soccer skills prove handy for Port Lincoln local

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Mark Verhoeven onboard HMAS Larrakia.  (photo: LSIS Yuri Ramsey)
Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Mark Verhoeven onboard HMAS Larrakia.

Mark Verhoeven probably never thought that the soccer skills honed at the Croation Soccer Club in Port Lincoln would come in handy years later in the Philippines.

Mark, or Chief Petty Officer Marine Tecnician Verhoeven, is a member of Armidale Class Patrol Boat Crew Attack Four which recently finished a six-week South East Asian deployment in HMAS Larrakia.

“When the ship was in Davao, the Philippines, we organised a friendly international soccer match between a team from Larrakia and a team from a couple of local gunboats we were exercising with,” he said.

“Owing to an old leg injury, I can’t run about too much in the outfield so I played in goal, and almost kept a clean sheet.”

Since joining the Navy in 1996, Chief Petty Officer Verhoeven has had a number of postings, both at sea and ashore, undergone a range of technical courses and on-the-job training, and advanced through the ranks to become the Senior Technical Officer (STO) onboard patrol boats.

“As the STO, I’m responsible for the ship’s machinery and ancillary systems, and coordinate the damage control response to any incidents we may encounter,” he said.

When he is not at sea, Chief Petty Officer Verhoeven spends his time with his partner and fellow former Port Lincolnite, Wendy, and their 10-year-old daughter Aeron.

“We tend to spend a lot of time taking our daughter fishing and camping, and generally enjoying the serenity,” he said.

Despite having been on a number of operations and overseas deployments, Chief Petty Officer Verhoeven said the most recent one held some of the fondest memories.

“The unveiling of the Australian memorial to those who were killed in the Battle of the Leyte Gulf 70 years ago was something I will remember for a long time,” he said.

“I also enjoyed visiting the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, and of course appreciated the chance to play soccer in the Philippines.

For the record, the team from Larrakia won the match 11-1.

Chief Petty Officer Mark Verhoeven watches on from goal as Leading Seaman Electronic Technician Bradley Ireland goes for a spectacular kick during a soccer match between HMAS Larrakia and the  Philippines Navy at Panacan Naval Base, Davao, Philippines.

Chief Petty Officer Mark Verhoeven watches on from goal as Leading Seaman Electronic Technician Bradley Ireland goes for a spectacular kick during a soccer match between HMAS Larrakia and the Philippines Navy at Panacan Naval Base, Davao, Philippines.