Friendly football comp strengthens bonds

The Navy Football Federation Australia (FFA) men’s and women’s teams recently made the journey to Darwin for a training camp and subsequent match against the US Marines Rotational Force squads.

CAPTIONPetty Officer Jessica Gunning scores a goal during a 4th of July soccer match between the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Marine Corps held at Darwin Football Stadium, Northern Territory. Story by Lieutenant Jessica Blackman. Photo by Leading Seaman Leo Baumgartner.

There were high hopes for the squads, with many new faces joining the Navy FFA this year, all bringing fresh perspectives and talent.

Both squads quickly acclimatised to the heat in Northern Territory with the support and guidance of the coaching team and Navy FFA staff.

The training camp was a success with the women’s and men’s teams working on strategies, fast footwork drills and set pieces before the big game.

Local physical training instructor Petty Officer Matthew Rowe organised a pool session for both teams to aid in facilitating quick recovery after intense training sessions.

Able Seaman Erin Walsh enjoyed the time up north and integrated seamlessly into the women’s team.

“The match was a great way to celebrate the 4th of July with the US Marines,” Able Seaman Walsh said.

“The training sessions leading up to the game were a great way to learn new strategies to implement before taking to the field.”

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CAPTIONA United States Marine and a Royal Australian Navy sailor compete for the ball during a 4th of July soccer match held at Darwin Football Stadium, NT. Photo by Leading Seaman Leo Baumgartner.

Both Navy teams were able to come away with a win on game day.

The men’s team were able to hold onto victory 3-1 and the women’s team earned a hard-fought 5-2 win.

The high level of skill and resilience displayed by both the Navy and Marine teams was commendable.

The game was not only about the score when the final whistle was blown. It was also an excellent opportunity to share 4th of July celebrations with US friends.

Commodore Eric Young, president of Navy FFA, flew into Darwin to show his support for all of the teams competing in the significant event, held at the Darwin Football Stadium.

He said with all teams sharing a love for the game of football, the 4th of July presented the perfect opportunity to play against our US friends.

“We have stood beside each other for more than 100 years and there are deep bonds between our Navy and the US Marines,” Commodore Young said.

“Being able to further deepen those relationships by playing a game of football on the 4th of July to help celebrate their Independence Day was very special.”

Lieutenant Ryan Latty, new to the Navy FFA family, had a fulfilling introduction into the squad.

“It was a great experience and a great insight into the various benefits of Navy sport,” Lieutenant Latty said.

“Not only did I get the chance to make some new friends, but I also got the chance to represent the Navy in a sport I love.”

Overall, it was a successful trip for the Navy FFA on and off the pitch.

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CAPTION: Players and staff from both the Royal Australian Navy and United States Marine Corps men’s soccer teams together after a 4th of July soccer match held at Darwin Football Stadium, Northern Territory. Photo by Leading Seaman Leo Baumgartner.


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