The sport of soccer is currently undergoing a resurgence at Fleet Base West, in Rockingham, after a busy 18 month period that has seen the team based at HMAS Stirling creating a strong impression in the local competition as well as against visiting ship’s teams.
Building on the excellent work done by Chief Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Paul Williams and Ship’s Warrant Officer William Nicol in establishing a soccer team from the West Australian base, Petty Officer Combat System Supervisor Martin Ball has taken the coaching of the team to a new level such that some players are likely to be in contention for the national Navy team.
“One of my main aims, when I started in the coaching position, was to improve the player base at Stirling and prepare them to be competitive for selection at nationals which are held annually in November," Petty Officer Ball said
“Navy soccer is highly competitive across the fleet, and the side we have put together here at Stirling is showing that we can compete with the east coast sides as well as the local community sides within Western Australia.”
Sporting the Navy guernsey, the team has been taking on local community sides from Shoalwater and Port Kennedy, as well as challenging the Western Australia Fire Service to regular games.
The highlight of the year has been the taking on of the visiting international ship’s teams from France, Spain, and India.
"The visiting nations provide a great experience and a taste of the differences in the way the game is played in other parts of the world,” Petty Officer Ball said.
The team also hosts weekly games for Australian ships alongside at Fleet Base West, championing the fit-to-fight ethos as well as providing the opportunity of playing a team sport while serving in the Navy.
Last year, the Stirling team made the long trek to HMAS Albatross, in Nowra, New South Wales, for the Nirimba Cup and finished credible semi-finalists.
This year Stirling intends to sponsor their similar event which will provide a greater level of participation than was possible for the Nirimba Cup.
As coach Petty Officer Ball’s plan to strengthen Navy football in the West is to enter a team in the local amateur league based in Rockingham.
Further information on Navy Soccer can be obtained at the Navy Football Federation Australia website: http://www.navyffa.com/