Following the success of some of the mixed AFL games from the 2013-2014 season, we decided that the Vietnam Swans vs Philippines game would be the perfect arena to hold another game and encourage a host of new arrivals to get involved. The call went out to the Saigon Gaels girls and guys, as well as friends, girlfriends, colleagues and neighbours. The ever increasing interest in the mixed AFL format again surprised us all, with 40 people turning up to play on the day, with a lot of new (and slightly apprehensive) faces.
Power couple Kelli and Penny were given captaining rights, and demonstrated that they are some of the best AFL players out of the ACT, while Dan and Kyle were instructed to learn their 20-man squad’s names and run the bench. We warmed up, had a practice with the oval ball (which, for many, looked about as familiar as snow in Saigon), sledged our opponents, and took the field. The first quarter certainly wasn’t the prettiest display of AFL on record, with many shell-shocked faces to be seen. The Reds went in to the quarter break with a slight lead, which was quickly overturned in the second term as players found their confidence and those who had copped their first tackle sought to pay it forward. By half time the Whites had a one point lead, and it was officially game on. The Whites held on to their lead in the third, with impressive displays coming from Charlie, Siobhan, Penny, Alison, Ben and Mr Pawl, and went in to three quarter time two goals up. The Reds felt somewhat defeated already, with many looking longingly at the wine already on offer, but a pep talk from captain Kel got everyone ready for the final term. With some very fancy footwork coming from Trent, as well as solid midfield support from Kelli, Mark and Lara, the Reds got two quick goals, making the final term a much more interesting affair. Each team picked up a few more scores, with the game finishing a DRAW, with an impressive score of 68-68. It was a fitting end to a tight contest, with everyone walking away a winner. A big thank you to our coaches for the day (Dan and Kyle), fantastic umpires (Josh and Nathan), MC-extraordinaire (Fabbo) and everyone who came down to play and watch.
Once again, the mixed game has highlighted the growing interest for the modified rules AFL format amongst the expat and Vietnamese community in HCMC, and provided an opportunity for new people to get involved. The Swannies and Saigon Gaels both managed to pick up some new players as a result of the game, making it a successful recruitment drive. In addition to the 40 people on field, there were another 60 or so cheering from the sidelines with some clearly looking interested for next time. Plans are now underway for the next mixed game, which we hope can become a more regular fixture on the Vietnam Swans calendar – stay tuned!!