News: Playing towards understanding
Story by Spc. Michael Gault
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –Soldiers of the 191st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion squared off with Kuwait National Guard soldiers in a game of soccer at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Jan. 13. The game was played as part of a growing partnership and camaraderie between the two nations.
Soldiers from the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 47th Transportation Company joined the 191st soldiers in preparation for this match and were confident in their abilities.
“I feel very appreciative to have this opportunity to participate in an event like this with such great people,” said Spc. Jonathan Norman, a warehouse clerk for the 191st, resident of Sandy, Utah. “It is the experience of a lifetime to be able to not only interact with the Kuwait National Guard but also to enjoy some good friendly competition and to have fun together.”
Although the players were anxious to show their soccer skills to the opposing team, many of them had already developed a mutual respect for one another from previous partnership events.
“This is my second time playing soccer against them,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Payeur, a warehouse noncommissioned officer for the 191st, and resident of Kearns, Utah. “I saw several of the same players that we played against last month at the Kuwait National Guard Officer's Club. Several of their players recognized all of us from that event. When they saw us, they had a smile on their face and made sure they shook our hands to say, ‘Hi’ again.”
The U.S. players took the field for warm-up and noticed the Kuwait National Guard soldiers were sporting brand new yellow soccer uniforms looking like professionals doing grass drills and performing stretching exercises. The difference between the American and Kuwaiti players was immediately obvious.
Payeur, having seen many players from the Kuwaiti team in action already, warned his teammates that the Kuwaitis were excellent players, but he still felt they had an advantage over them.
“We have diversity," said Payeur. “We have players from different areas of the world with all kinds of play styles to keep them guessing."
"Both teams played very hard and earned respect for each other’s skills," said Spc. Justin Kelleher, a 191st administrative specialist. "It doesn't matter who won, just that we're working together."
Both teams complimented each other's skills after the game with handshakes and pats on the back. The final outcome favored the Kuwaiti soldiers with a score of 2-1.
Observing a longtime soccer tradition, many team members exchanged team jerseys at the end of the soccer match.
"Out of respect, many took the shirt off their backs and gave them as gifts to an opponent player,” said Norman.