Forty Navy footballers pulled up their socks for the annual South Coast Sevens football tournament at Gerringong last weekend - with the Navy women’s team taking the spoils.
The Navy women played six games over the two days of the seven-a-side tournament, which was contested by teams from across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
To claim the shield, the Navy women won all six of their games, scored 28 goals and only conceded three.
They scored early in the grand final and were unlucky to not score again, executing disciplined defence and a few desperate saves to hold on to their 1-0 lead and claim a well-won victory for Navy.
Able Seaman Jessica Muir said the tournament was perfect preparation for the Australian Defence Force National Championships at the end of October.
“The quality and unity within the team was well above expected, considering we only play together a few times a year.
“There’s always things to work on, but with the experience and quality of the girls in this team - nationals is going to be an exciting time,” she said.
The men’s teams narrowly missed out on qualifying for the tournament finals, the vet’s team losing 2-1 in the plate final against a strong APS team.
However, the South Coast Sevens provided an excellent opportunity for players to get some playing time into their legs before Navy’s pre-nationals Training and Development Camp at HMAS Creswell later this month.
After missing the 2018 national championships, experienced midfielder Able Seaman Liam Hurst returned to the men’s team and instantly made an impact.
Men’s team defender Lieutenant Duane Sheppard said it was a good weekend of football for all the Navy men.
“The team had a few close games and unfortunately a 0-0 draw on day two of the tournament meant we got knocked out in the semi-finals after count back to the first corner conceded.”
“Overall, the team played well and it was a good run out prior to nationals,” Lieutenant Sheppard said.
Chief Petty Officer Peter Burnett from the Navy over 35s men’s team said the Navy football community enjoyed returning to the South Coast Sevens each year.
“It’s a really well-organised tournament and we have to say a massive congratulations to the Gerringong Breakers Football Club and Kiama Council for putting on the event.
“The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and the standard of football played was extremely high across all grades.
“What our vet’s team lacked in speed, we made up for in skill and knowledge of the game, with our standout payer undeniably being our goalkeeper, Christian ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez, who played with the zest of a 21-year-old and stifled the opposition teams with some world-class saves,” he said.
Chief Petty Officer Burnett said he had high-hopes for the Navy over 35s men at the upcoming national championships.
“The two day runout at South Coast Sevens was a great measure of what can be expected from the Navy Vets during the imminent National Carnival.
“The calibre of players on show was a promising omen going into the biggest event in the Navy Football calendar, and we can’t wait to get started”, “GO NAVY!” he said.
Navy will face tough competition at this year’s Australian Defence Force National Championships, with the Royal Navy sending teams to Australia for the competition.
The Navy Ladies team will be looking to defend the championship crown they won at last year’s tri-service tournament.
The Navy Football Federation Australia Player Development Camp will be conducted at HMAS Creswell from 18-24 October 2019.
The camp will be used to select players to represent Navy at the national championships, which will be held at Valentine Sports Park in Sydney from 25-31 October.
Imagery is available on the Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20192408.