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Former Southland Soccer Rep Shows Off Skills In Dili

WN-07-0109-01-tn.jpg: Sergeant Roddy Arriagada in front of an RNZAF Iroquois helicopter in Timor Leste.

1 June 2007

Royal New Zealand Air Force Sergeant Roddy Arriagada is helping the Australian-led Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) promote the beautiful game in Timor Leste.

The former Verden College student is serving as a Logistics Supply Specialist with the 170-strong New Zealand Defence Force contingent in the South East Asian country.

His soccer skills, which saw him represent Southland from 1990 until 1997, have earned him a place in a two-week CJTF organised Soccer Tournament in Dili as the sole NZDF representative in a combined Australia and New Zealand team.

“It’s a great way for defence personnel to get involved in the community and to encourage kids to play sports rather than get involved in gangs and violence.”

OH-07-0350-28-tn.jpg: Sergeant Roddy Arriagada (red) in action against the UN Police team at Dili Stadium. The tournament began on May 20 and involves Timorese men’s teams, the Timor under-23 team, a UN Police team and Australian and New Zealand combined teams.

Playing soccer in Timor Leste is more difficult than in Southland because temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius and the pitch at Dili Stadium is rock solid, he said.

“The pitch has dry grass on it and there are a lot of patches where it is just pure stones so you try not to fall… but to be honest it’s a lot better than when I played in Bamyan Afghanistan when I was deployed there in 2005.”

Sergeant Roddy Arriagada is based at Dili Airport with two Iroquois helicopters and 32 RNZAF personnel who are serving as part of the New Zealand contingent.

He will return to New Zealand in July at the conclusion of his three-month deployment.