During a recent visit to Zhanjiang, China, HMA Ships Stuart and Arunta joined forces to take on the People’s Liberation Army - Navy (PLA-N) in a friendly game of soccer.
In the first half of the fixture, Arunta took on their counterparts with skill and enthusiasm which lead to Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Mathew Parry being able to find the back of the net with a long range strike. Arunta's team were unlucky not to add to their lead however they went to the break with a narrow1-0 advantage.
A complete change out of the Australian teams occurred after the half time interval with Stuart taking to the field to represent the Australian contingent. Stuart's team were eager to match the skill and enthusiasm displayed by Arunta, however after a minor lapse in their defence the PLA-N team were able to pounce on the ball and score the equaliser. The remaining minutes of the game were frantic with both sides pressing forward in an attempt to break the deadlock. It was to be the home side’s day as they were able to find the elusive the elusive goal which would see the PLA-N take away the spoils with a hard fought 2-1 victory.
Sports Officer in Arunta, Lieutenant James Hill, said that the universal language of sport was a bridge-builder for the navies.
"The sports morning was a fantastic way to break down the communication barrier and interact on a social level with members from the PLA-N," he said.
In addition to the soccer match, the crews also took the opportunity to play a game of touch football with their hosts. For many of the PLA-N side it was the first time that they had seen or played the game.
Although acutely aware that touch football is not a common sport in China, the crews from the Australian Navy showed great patience and enthusiasm in coaching the PLA-N in the finer points of the game.
HMA Ships Stuart and Arunta are both Anzac class frigates on deployment through Asia, expected back in their home ports in mid December.