Royal Air Force Footballers Undergo A Stern Test In The Netherlands

Fortuna Sittard hosted the RAF in a fixture that had the aim of forging closer ties between the local military and civilian communities.

RAF Halton and RAF Brize Norton sent players over to Joint Force Command Brunssum in the Netherlands to participate in a commemorative match against Dutch top-flight side Fortuna Sittard.

Celebrations surrounded the whole event - as the match was played alongside an open day to mark Fortuna’s recent promotion to the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ premier football division.

Fortuna Sittard hosted the RAF in a celebratory fixture.

As the football got underway the visitors had to cope with a searing 35-degree heat as well as their opponents’ skill level.

The RAF side contained a full plethora of non-commissioned ranks, from Senior Aircraftsman to Warrant Officer. Their opponents had the edge from the start, mostly due to those within the Fortuna roster.

It was an abundance of stars that the RAF side had to cope with. Matthew Amoah, ex-Borussia Dortmund and Ghana took to the pitch.

As did Patrick Paauwe, who won the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord.

Current Fortuna players George Mells, Christopher Braun and Bo Breunee were also on hand to make it the sternest of tests for the military side.

Fortuna and the RAF Select XI do battle in the Netherlands

It was though Fortuna who unsurprisingly romped to victory - the gulf in class leading to a four-nil win for the hosts. The RAF side did have their chances, however.

Senior Aircraftsman Scott Stone went close for the visitors before Sergeant Mark Bradley almost got on the score sheet from a corner.

Had it not been for Senior Aircraftsman Michael Ralph the final score could have been even higher. The goalkeeper kept the gap down to four thanks to some excellent saves.

There were a number of positives to take from the event however for the RAF side.

Warrant Officer Mark Smith said at the final whistle:

“The lads will have learned a lot from this and we can take this experience into the coming season… we have played some very good football against a top-tier Dutch side.”

Once the fixture was complete both sides headed off to a Sportsman's Dinner, where Fortuna Sittard’s Chairman once again underlined the importance of the event and the close relationship between two communities.