FOR MANY of the Army personnel who played in the recent ADF Australian Rules Championships in Melbourne, there were strong parallels of mateship to their overseas service.

The majority of both the men's and women's squad have deployed, some very recently, with respective Afghanistan tours something many had in common.

The two army teams were undefeated in winning the titles from the Navy and Australian Air Force (RAAF), with the men successful for the fifth time in a row and the women for the third for the first time in the carnival's history.

But for many, the chance to get away and represent the army in a relaxed environment with a bunch of likeminded people after returning from overseas duty was worth more than the actual result.

"I think the big thing with football and deployment is the way you need to come together and you stick by each other no matter what happens," Sgt Margarita Obien told

"For me, coming back, it's been about adjustment like it is for everyone when you come back from deployment.

"Once you come on something like this, you realise … you don't take things for granted and you realise how good mates are to have."

Obien deployed last year on a long stint in Afghanistan and has previously served in the Solomon Islands.

Originally from Maffra, near Sale in Victoria, she has been in the army since 2002 and playing football since 2004.

She's based at Holsworthy in the catering corps as a chef but has served all over Australian, including as an instructor at Kapooka in Wagga.

Obien, who captained the women's team and won the player's player award in their seven-point win over the RAAF, said it was a unique sense of mateship that was formed within the squads gathered from all over Australia.

"We've only just met each other and we are a tight knit group already and that's all you can ask for," she said.

"That's pretty much what army is, you come here, mateship, bonds, you play together so pretty much you play hard and you work hard."

Both teams went into week-long camps in Melbourne before the first game in early April, which was played at Moorabbin – the spiritual home of St Kilda.

They attended an AFL game, a function where Richmond CEO Brendon Gale gave an address on business and sport, and spent plenty of time bonding outside of daily training commitments.

For LT James Byers, the opportunity to get away with the army team came after a hectic 2013 that started and ended with deployments.

He returned from Timor in January, had a brief break and went straight into pre-deployment training for a stint in Afghanistan, from which he came home in November.

Byers said the team sense generated within the football squads and throughout their time spent together for the carnival was simply part of being in the military.

"Overseas, you've got that environment where you've got that tight-knit group and to have that in a bit more of a relaxed environment, it really does help a lot of these guys, even though we're fresh faces, become mates for life due to the fact we've played in this carnivals together," Byers said.

"You spend that time and the mateship really comes through and you really build on that each year.

"I think it's something that's flowed throughout the years; the sportsmanship and mateship that is formed on the field and off the field as well."

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan