Vietnam Swans

Australian Rules Football In Vietnam!

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Archive for April, 2010

Josh talks a little about ANZAC footy and the Club

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 29, 2010

Josh Little, who played a pivotal role in having Buckley and O'Donnell attend the recent Swannies clinic, gets Buckley to sign the footy. The footy was auctioned last weekend by the Swannies to raise money for swimming lessons for Vietnamese children

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.

Swannie, Eric, teaches one of the youngsters about the footy at the orphanage in Vung Tau

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Hoi An Swimming Program 2010

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 28, 2010

MIchael Johnston at Sunday's ANZAC Day Dawn Service, Long Tan

On ANZAC Day at Tommy’s Bar for the live telecast of the match between Essendon and Collingwood, the Swannies auctioned an Essendon jumper signed by Essendon Captain, Jobe Watson, a footy signed by Nathan Buckley and Garry O’Donnell and a Swannies Kit. The money was being raised to support a swimming program in Central Vietnam. Michael Johnston, who has been the driving force behind the Swans supporting a swimming program has written the following article.


They mightn’t have known what we were doing on the ground for 60 minutes of football, but the children from the DONG PHUC Orphanage in Vung Tau had a good time greeting us as we arrived at the match venue and watching us perform highly skilled and imaginative feats with the Sherrin (Fabbo’s scissor kick goal a la Pele!).  Following the short football clinic conducted by Swans members the day before at the Orphanage, some of the children might have known what to do on the football field.

Sadly, too many children of their age don’t know what to do in the water and 40 children under the age of 15 are estimated to drown each day in Viet Nam.  Drowning is the number 1 killer of children in this age group in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam Swans are determined to assist with swimming programmes that provide “Train the Trainer” courses so that more people are skilled and qualified to teach other people how to be swimming coaches.


Hoi An Swimming Project, Palm Gardens

Our first project is taking place in Hoi An under the guidance of Ms Joanne Stewart from TriBob, a triathlon organising company.   TriBob is providing some sponsorship, but Jo and her volunteers are continually seeking extra sponsorship to cover the costs of the 2010 programme.


After the Dawn Service at Long Tan, the Swannies relocated to Tommy’s Bar in Vung Tau and commenced Friendship Match post mortems.  During this hectic de-briefing session, the atmosphere was electric as football memorabilia were auctioned in an attempt to reach a target of US$1,000 to “Train MORE Swimming Trainers”.

Unlike Thit Cho, the 3-legged mutt that limped home in the last at Vung Tau Dish lickers on the Saturday night after the footballers had vacated the venue, the Swannies’ auctioneers raced to the front and 19.5 million (USD1,030) dong was pledged from the enthusiastic crowd in record time.  Go Swannies, you good thing!

This will be enough to assist with the AustSwim certification programme for the PE Teachers and to provide transport for all the children coming from rural schools into the central Hoi An primary school that has a shallow pool.  Some older children are also undertaking lessons at a pool kindly provided free of charge by Palm Gardens Resort.


The Hoi An Swimming Project has the support of the Quang Nam Provincial Government, and Jo is currently going through the process of registering the Project as an International Non-Government Organisation.  This will ensure the Project continues with an internationally recognised identity that can easily receive and expend funds.

For further information about assisting this worthy cause, either financially or as a volunteer, please contact the Swans’ Hoi An member, Michael Johnston, via


From March 1st until mid-August, there will be four 6-week programmes, each consisting of 12 children per lesson with:

  • 3 lessons in the morning at Luong The Ving primary school, Hoi An:
  • 4 lessons in the afternoon at the primary school; and
  • 2 lessons in the afternoon at Palm Gardens Resort.

17 schools will participate with a total of 672 children receiving 18 hours of lessons each.

A Physical Education Teacher from the local provincial schools will observe each lesson.  By the end of the project, each PE teacher will have observed between 15 and 40 lessons.

16-24 PE Teachers will then be given a 1-week “Train the Trainer” course so that they will have the skills to teach swimming classes as well as to be able to pass on their coaching skills to other coaches.  The “Train the Trainer” course is being organised in conjunction with the Director of AustSwim.

For coaches in 2010, Jo has 4 Vietnamese coaches returning from 2009, plus 6 volunteers coming to Viet Nam.  Also, there will be a qualified AustSwim instructor coming to the programme from June until August to work with the “Train the Trainer” course.


On Monday afternoon, April 26th, a group of school children went into the water at An Bang Beach near Hoi An.  One 12-year-old boy didn’t come out.  His body was found 4km north of An Bang at 5.30am on Tuesday.

Posted in Swim | 8 Comments »

The ANZAC Friendship Match Report

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 27, 2010

The Australian Ambassador, Allaster Cox, addresses the crowd in front of the Hanoi Hawks and Saigon Saints

National Team Captain, Danny Monk, turns in a stunning piece of sports journalism on the weekend’s ANZAC Friendship Match. Read on…

In a Vung Tau ANZAC weekend littered with Highlights and Memorable Moments there was a little game of AFL Football, Hanoi Hawks v Saigon Saints, that also rose to the Occasion.

The scene had been set thanks to the Nui Dat tour led by Dan, Kev and John in the morning and the anticipation was evident as players and spectators strolled into the amphitheatre that was the ‘Vung Tau Dog Track’. The Carnival atmosphere of BBQ, beer and beef pies helped mask the determination of both teams and particularly coaching panels who were finalizing their playing lists right up to the last minute.

After all the formalities and a spine tingling rendition of the National Anthem performed by National President Fabbo and his back up singers from the North and South, the 400 strong crowd were about to be treated to a football spectacular.

The Hawks jumped out of the blocks early, winning the ball from the middle time and again through the Danang Difference, Lucas, and had the Saigon boys under all sorts of pressure. Rob “What am I doin in the backline?” Vissa racked up the possessions for the Saints and The “greyhound’ himself, Sam, was right at home chasing the bunny around but the Hawks through Big Mick, Little Willy, Fabbo and co hammered home a few quality goals to have a big lead at the first break.

The Question had to be asked, were these teams even or was it going to be a white wash?

Coach Stanno was full of praise at Quarter time; the backline was strong, midfield on top and forwards presenting and finishing the job, stick to the game plan, don’t kick it near JD and smash Hadley at all times.

JD marks another

The second quarter was similar to the first with plenty of scoring opportunities from both teams (mostly from Lucas and Heath, really), some of the South Big Guns came into play with JD marking anything that came near him. Nick, shaking off the effects of the previous evening, and Stewie and Bill hitting everything hard.  Hawks Phil Murphy, Hendo and Big Toby seemed to have all the answers though.

Shagger was showing blistering pace to get to from half back to the lavatory on a couple of occasions. Big Kev was causing plenty of headaches for the South up forward and ‘6 month holiday’ Mark was giving his kids and the Saints a footballing lesson.

With little opportunity up forward in the first half for the South’s evergreen Big Danny A, he must have been wishing the Birdman, Gus, was back to dish out some assists and a spoonful of inspiration.

Saints’ Coach, Josh and his coaching brain trust were also looking for some inspiration as they again were looking down the barrel of a large defeat.

The Hawks defence, led by “It’s my job” Kindness, had done the job all day, Aiden, MJ, Mick and young Nick were giving away less than the Palace Hotel Casino. Matt ‘Glove’ Townsend saw ball after ball out of his backline – often into the grandstand – but the South were not giving up. They’d seen The Mighty Micky Francis take his half hamstring to the BBQ, The Flyer had moved into the Middle…as umpire. They had a sniff and in the ANZAC spirit were not going to give up.

The South’s Heath, JD and Angry started to dominate in the middle and around the ground and they worked their way back into it with plenty of support from ‘Vung Tau’ Sam and Coach Josh finding plenty of it. The Stanno Steam Train that saw sparks fly off Dave Hadley’s body upon impact brought the crowd to their feet and rallied behind the Southern underdogs.

3 Quarter time couldn’t come quick enough for the Hawks, actually full time couldn’t come quick enough. Willy and Stanno pleaded for more, it could have been sweat but I’m pretty sure it was tears falling from Captain Willy’s face as he urged his team on, his passion for the brownish jumper evident for all to see.

The 4th Quarter was a pressure cooker. The crowd was on their feet. The Hawks were dead on theirs – and the Southerners were storming home. It was a goal fest (mostly from Heath and Lucas again) but Big Armstrong shook off the ‘No Gus’ factor and started banging them home. Saigon President Dez kicked home Goal of the Day – that didn’t count. Coast to coast, streaming down the wing, crowd at fever pitch, Dez’s celebrations to match… only to find play had stopped 30seconds earlier. It didn’t matter, he banged home another one. Unfortunately that didn’t count either!

The Hawks were hanging on by a thread. The Saints were banging illegitimate goals from everywhere as the seconds ticked down. Against the run of play, cool hand Lucas casually snapped one over the shoulder from the boundary and as the siren sounded in an epic thriller the Hanoi Hawks had hung on by a solitary point.

Sensational performances all over the park and none more so than BOG Heath for the Saints and Lucas for the Hawks, crowd pleasers all day!

Special mention must go to our umpires for the day too, boundaries, goals and Rick who did a mighty job in the middle! Scorers were also well under the pump and performed admirably!

All in all a truly awesome game that fitted in nicely with the awesome weekend!

Thank you to all that made it happen.

For photos of the ANZAC weekend, see the and .

Hanoi Hawks Saigon Saints
Q1 5.0. 30 1.1. 7
Q2 7.2. 44 4.4 28
Q3 8.2. 50 5. 6. 36
Q4 10.3.63 9.8 62

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First photos of ANZAC Friendship Weekend

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 27, 2010

The 2010 ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Long Tan

The first photos of the ANZAC Friendship Weekend in Vung Tau have emerged. The photos are courtesy of player, Josh Little, and therefore, there are no action photos yet of the actual match.

Additional photos will be coming in over the next few days so keep checking for updates and further reports of what was, a very special weekend.

  • for photos of the Swannies visit to the Orphanage on Friday 23 April 2010.
  • for photos of the Nui Dat Tour.
  • for photos of match day (4 photos only at the moment).
  • for the photos of the 2010 ANZAC Day Dawn Service, Long Tan Cross.

Remember, more photos are coming.

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Video footage of ANZAC Day at Long Tan Cross

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 26, 2010

Adam McCarty has put together a minute-long of video footage of the Long Tan Cross which he recorded yesterday, ANZAC Day 2010.

To see the footage on You Tube, click .

Much more will follow of the ANZAC Friendship Match Weekend over the coming days.

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Hanoi win by a point in inaugural ANZAC Friendship clash

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 25, 2010

The Vietnam Swans set off to climb Nui Dat yesterday, prior to the ANZAC Friendship match

Yesterday, the Vietnam Swans hosted the Inaugural ANZAC Friendship match in Vung Tau.

The Hanoi  Hawks won in an absolute nail biter, 10.3.63 to the Saigon Saints 9.8. 62.

The crowd was played in front of a crowd of 400 at the Vung Tau Greyhound Racing Track.

Yesterday, the Swannies went on a tour of Nui Dat and this morning, it was the Long Tan Dawn Service.

More to follow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Vietnam Swans inaugural ANZAC Friendship Match

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 23, 2010

Vietnam Swans National President, Phil Johns

A messge from the Vietnam Swans National President, Phil Johns.

For full details of ANZAC weekend, click .

Dear Swannies, Supporters and Sponsors

In Australia, Australian Rules Footy is very closely aligned with ANZAC Day – the anniversary of that terrible dawn back in 1915 when the ANZACs landed on the beaches of Gallipoli. In Asia this weekend, ANZAC footy matches are being played in nine countries, in memory of Australia’s and New Zealand’s fallen.

This year, for the first time, Vietnam will host an ANZAC match, played between the Hanoi Hawks and Saigon Saints. Commemorating ANZAC Day in this place will have particular significance for those of us fortunate enough to be here today: we will be reminded first hand that wars end long before the pain and suffering they cause – to all involved.

The Vietnam Swans is just an Aussie Rules Club made up of ordinary people from different backgrounds who are living in an extraordinary country. We are humbled by the generosity shown to us by those who have so warmly welcomed us into their country, and we share together our sorrow and mutual respect for the sacrifices of our peoples.

While we are daunted by the prospect of hosting our first ANZAC Friendship match, we are strengthened by the knowledge that sport is a formidable force in building relationships. The Vietnam Swans hope that this match will help build the ever strengthening friendship between two friends: Australia and Vietnam.

Dress Code for those attending Dawn Service

Swans Players: Our new collared club shirts tucked in, pants and shoes (or dress shorts and sandals).
Others: For males, dress pants, shoes and collared shirt tucked in (or sandals and dress shorts). For women, a similar standard.


For full details of the weekend, including some history, click onto the . But, in summary:

Today, Friday 23 April

Afternoon – Swannies to tour Vung Tau Orphanage. Hold a footy clinic, teach some English and spend time.
Evening –

Saturday, 24 April

Morning – Nui Dat Tour
Afternoon – Vietnam Swans ANZAC Friendship Match, Hanoi Hawks Vs Saigon Saints
Evening – Vung Tau Dog Races

Sunday, 25 April

5am – ANZAC Day Dawn Service and Minh Dam Memorial to pay respects to Vietnamese fallen
11.30am – ANZAC Day Match, Collingwood Vs Essendon,
Afternoon (various times) – Return to Saigon and Hanoi


Over the weekend Tommy’s 3 Sports Bar and the Vietnam Swans will be raising money for two local charities. In addition, the Vietnam Swans will conduct a silent auction for:

An Essendon jumper signed by Essendon Captain, Jobe Watson
A football signed by Nathan Buckley and Gary “O’Donnell when they recently visited the Vietnam Swans on their ANZAC trip
A Vietnam Swans kit comprising footy jumper, shirt, hat, shorts, bag etc.

All money raised will be donated to a charity in Hoi An, Central Vietnam which conducts “train the trainer” swimming lesson. In Vietnam, more children die from drowning than road accidents.

And so…

A special weekend is about to begin.

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Hanoi Hawks unveil new kit

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 22, 2010

The Hanoi Hawks show off their new players' kit

The Vietnam Swans in Hanoi who will play in our ANZAC Friendship Match on Saturday as the “Hanoi Hawks” have just unveiled the new players’ kit.

Looks schmick.

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Dress Code for ANZAC Day Dawn Service 2010

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 21, 2010

The new Swannies shirt, as worn by Dave "Flyer" Kainey

Tonight, this photo to the left has been peeled off the fax machine and immediately placed on the Swannies website.

Dave Kainey in Singapore has just picked up our new Club shirt.

It’s the same base shirt as we used for the 2009 Asian Champs in Malaysia. But on the front, as well as the red “V”, we now have the running man on the right breast. On the back of the shirt is the “Angry Swan” that adorns the front of our footy jumpers.

The Vietnam Swans will wear this shirt to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Long Tan on Sunday 25 April.

Together with the Club shirt tucked into dress pants, we shall wear shoes (or dress shorts and sandals).

It is not acceptable to wear singlets, thongs, t shirts or board shorts to the Dawn Service.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Swannies to visit orphanage in Vung Tau

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 19, 2010

Former Swans President, Dary Taber and Eddie "Gowwld" Smith at the Warmhouse Orphanage, Hanoi, after giving small gifts for TET in 2007

On Friday 23 April 2010, the Vietnam Swans will visit an Orphanage in Vung Tau.

David Hadley of the Swannies, who is organising the visit, has advised that the orphanage we will visit is located at 96 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 1, Vung Tau City.

He adds that they are very excited about welcoming us and there should be approximately 25 children in attendance. Initially, we will hand out some small presents.

Then, the real stuff begins – a footy clinic and a handicrafts session so we really will have something for everyone.

Afterwards, we will informally “teach” the children some English. And maybe we can throw some stuff in like, “Oh, what a screamer…!”

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Swans to Hong Kong; Ashened ANZACs grounded

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 18, 2010

Swannies to tour Hong Kong on Cathay; travellers to ANZAC services in Europe grounded due to volcanic ash

Last week at Hong Kong Airport, a couple of Aussie pilots (perhaps Hong Kong Dragons?) were hailed as heroes after the of their Cathay Pacific A330 (although there were a few popped tyres). This week, the Vietnam Swans  confirmed that we will fly Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong on 21 May for a match against the Hong Kong Dragons the following day.

Back in 2003, the Hong Kong Dragons played in the then Hanoi Swans first ever match in Hanoi. Four years later, in 2007, the Dragons returned to Vietnam to play the newly formed National Team, the Vietnam Swans in Saigon. Now, it’s the Swannies turn to travel to Hong Kong for the first time.The trip will also serve as the farewell match for Monkey, JD and Jerry, Jerry, Jerry.

In more aeroplane woes, the recently erupted Icelandic volcano has brought air traffic in Europe to a stand still. This is causing big problems for Australians wishing to attend ANZAC Day Dawn services in France and Gallipoli (if their flights are via Europe (see ).

Fortunately, Vietnam is outside the volcanic ash zone and plans are continuing unabated for the Vietnam Swans inaugural ANZAC Friendship Match to be held in Vung Tau on 24 April 2010.

Yesterday it was confirmed that an additional group of 300 from the RSL will be in Vung Tau on ANZAC weekend.

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Vietnam Veterans’ Day 2007, Long Tan

Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 17, 2010

A very wet Kev Dacey at the 2007 Asian Champs in Bangkok, writes about his trip to the Long Tan Cross in the same year

Kev Dacey, a Swannie who no longer lives in Vietnam but remains very much a part of the team, has forwarded this article to the Blog reflecting upon his attendance at the Long Tan Cross Service on 18 August 2007.

The Australian Embassy in Hanoi and the Australian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City co-ordinate the Vietnam Veterans Day each year on the 18th of  August, the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan

Click for background on the actual battle.

HCMC Consulate staff members were invited to attend and I took some visitors from Australia and HCMC along with me to the ceremony.

The actual site is in a private rubber plantation about two hours drive from HCMC. The memorial consists of a simple white cross first erected in 1969 by 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, which fought in the battle, during its second tour of duty. Unfortunately the original cross disappeared after the War.

It has since been replaced by representatives of the Australian Veterans Vietnam Reconstruction Group with the consent of the local authorities and the owners of the rubber plantation.

The Long Tan Cross has become an extremely important site for veterans and others who seek to recognize Australians who served in Vietnam.

Prior to the commencement of the ceremony some of the Vets who were involved in the battle gave an impromptu talk of what conditions were like on the actual day. Horribly wet and muddy, with extremely low visibility and leading up to dusk.

The ceremony started at 3.30pm and right on cue there was an enormous rumble of thunder, much to the consternation of some of the Veterans in attendance. Happily it did not rain like it did 41 years ago.

The service was very solemn and low key, in deference to the Vietnamese who fought in the war. No medals allowed, even for the current serving Australian military in attendance.

The speech by the Australian Ambassador, the prayer by the NZ Consul General and the recitation of the Ode by the rep from Dept of Veterans Affairs were all very moving.

Unfortunately the playing of the Last Post and Reveille was done using canned music but in the eerie silence of the rubber plantation under leaden skies, it was extremely emotional. The sound of 250 Aussies and Kiwis singing their respective National Anthems brought tears to the eyes of many people in attendance.

To me personally, it was extremely emotional and moving as I reflected that over 40 years ago I was called up in the first draft and had service deferred whilst I was studying. My thoughts were for the families of the fallen on both sides, and on the long term effects that this particular war has had on people both in Australia and in Vietnam. Quite chilling to be standing on the actual site with some of the Vets.

A sombre drive back to HCMC by all concerned.

Next day I was persuaded to participate in a Hash House Harriers run / walk, about an hour and a half outside HCMC in a rubber plantation which looked very similar to the one at Long Tan. You guessed it, right on cue at 3.30pm, the heavens opened, accompanied by thunder and lightning and we spent the next hour and a half slogging through the rain and the mud. It gave me a better insight as to how the Diggers must have suffered in similar conditions. Many beers later we arrived back in HCMC to have a hot shower.

Thought I would share this with you as one of the highlights of working in Vietnam.

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