By Jen Gourley
It’s almost the school holidays – time for teenagers to be thinking about hanging out with their families and their mates, watching movies, going to the beach or spending time on their Xbox or PlayStation. Three local teens will be thinking about something quite different though as they will be spending most of their holidays competing in the Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge at Puckapunyal in Victoria.
CDT SGT Liam Wall, 16, CDT LCPL Layla Boyd, 15, and CDT LCPL Kye Plisch, 15, belong to the 148 Army Cadet Unit in Biloela. Accompanied by LT (AAC) Anthea Boyd and 2LT (AAC) Andrew Reeves, the three cadets recently went to Townsville for a selection weekend.
Wall, Boyd and Plisch were selected out of 20 cadets to be part of a team of 10 to participate in the Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge and compete against other teams of 10 from other brigades around Australia.
“What is pretty significant for us is that these three were chosen for a team of 10,” LT (AAC) Boyd said. “For a unit the size of ours (24 cadets), that’s fairly significant. The only other unit that had as many cadets chosen from their unit is 122 Army Cadet Unit in Mackay and they have 90 plus cadets in their unit.
“These three cadets have put in a lot of hard work and effort over the course of their cadet career thus far, and then to go away on that particular weekend and put their best foot forward and to be chosen for the team is excellent.”
At the selection event in Townsville the cadets’ ability to adapt was soon put to the test.
“They had to be able to quickly assimilate to a team environment with other cadets that they hadn’t met before,” LT (AAC) Boyd said. “They don’t have time to iron out those bugs of individuality. They’ve just got to go straight in and start working as a team. That’s pretty important.”
The selection process was demanding for all the cadets involved but CDT LCPL Kye Plisch displayed another important quality at the event – his sense of humour.
“Plisch uses humour a lot,” LT (AAC) Boyd said. “It keeps everybody entertained when the chips are down, and everybody’s tired and they’ve been worked to the nth degree and next minute, Plisch makes a joke and brings everybody back to ground level.”
With Chief of Army starting soon, Biloela’s three cadets are excited and nervous about taking part in the intense and gruelling challenge.
“They’re going be cold, they’re going to be tired, they’re going to be hungry,” LT (AAC) Boyd said. “And they’re going to be worked from the early hours in the morning until late into the night. There’s going to be physical challenges.”
Navigation, first-aid, and radio communications are just some of the skills the teams will be tested on and then they will be judged and scored on a team basis.
“At Chief of Army you have all your different teams from around Australia in your different brigades,” CDT SGT Wall said. “There’s also a team from New Zealand coming this year. In previous years, New Zealand and British cadets have come over but this year only the New Zealand cadets can make it. All of the teams compete for the Chief of Army trophy at the end and the best section gets to represent the Australian Army Cadets in New Zealand at a training exercise over there.”
Wall, Boyd and Plisch will fly to Townsville on Thursday, 30 July for two days of team building activities. Then the whole team will fly to Melbourne and be transferred to the army training facility and base Puckapunyal for the week-long competition.
This is a wonderful achievement for three Biloela cadets to be selected as the 148 Army Cadet Unit hasn’t had a Chief of Army representative since 2018.
If anyone would like to join the local cadets unit, they need to have turned 13 or older in that calendar year. To contact the unit, go the to 148 Army Cadet Unit page on Facebook for more information.