ANZAC Day is a very special day for all Australians no matter where you are in the world and the Vietnam Swans took the opportunity to hold their first ever ANZAC Friendship Match in Vung Tau, South Vietnam.
In the lead up to our ANZAC match, our Club was visited by two AFL ANZAC Day match specialists in Nathan Buckley and Gary O’Donnell. Channel 7 came to Vietnam to film a documentary (see You Tube and ) about Ray Buckley (Nathan’s father) and Keith Gent who were returning to Vietnam to reflect on their experiences during the Vietnam War.
Personally, it was a great experience to meet these AFL superstars and footballers affected by the Vietnam War and to have them attend our footy clinic to witness just what this great Club does. The football clinic involved the KOTO (Know One Teach One) which supports and educates underprivileged Vietnamese children, something the Club hopes to continue to support.
Nathan Buckley and Gary O’Donnell embraced the children and played games with them. Not one of these kids would have known who they were. The Superstars didn’t care and neither did the kids. They just loved having the opportunity to teach a great bunch of students a new and interesting game. It was a great sight.
One of the greatest aspects of being in Vietnam is having the opportunity to grow the game on the ground level and seeing the enthusiasm on someone’s face when they first pick up that odd shaped football.
Last weekend, the Vietnam Swans played our inaugural ANZAC Friendship clash in what was a fantastic weekend. The weekend was also used as an opportunity to learn about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and to educate us on what actually took place.
However, an experience that sticks out for me was the visit to the local orphanage in Vung Tau which the whole team participated in. There’s a great feeling around the Club especially when we have the ability to do something like visit a orphanage and provide the children with gifts and time. It was surely an experience that none of us will forget.
This footy club uses every opportunity as a chance to assist and every person made a special friend that day. We then put on a little footy clinic of our own and the kids were as receptive as can be. The skills started to increase and so did the smiles on their faces.
The main event of our weekend was the ANZAC match between the Hanoi Hawks and the Saigon Saints. The game was fantastic to be a part of and was probably one of the Club’s most memorable games in its history.
In the blistering heat and on the hard ground of the Vung Tau Greyhound track, it was one of the most physically taxing games we have played. However, with a 400 strong crowd cheering you on, everyone was pushing themselves to register that all important victory.
Being the coach of Saigon, I was not only proud of my team, despite the 1 point loss, but I was proud to be a Swannie. Everyone tried their guts out and put on what was a great game of footy. The reception we received from the crowd after the match just confirmed how much fun the event was to watch; I almost wished I was a spectator.
This Club might have had some on field success but, off the field is where we are really kicking goals! With continued support of local charities and foundations, this Club not only loves to play footy but loves to continue to assist and have fun with the people who make this country, Vietnam, as welcoming as it is.