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March Madness scores in Kandahar City Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus

U.S. Army Spc. Jessica Burke, left, a native of Mayodan, N.C., and Cpl. Virginia Bisiaux, a native of Paris, both with the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division Female Engagement Team, hug women of the women's Kandahar basketball team after a game in Kandahar City, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 22, 2013. This was the first game the Afghan women have played against American women. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus/Released)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan-- They took to the court inside a stark gymnasium. No electricity, slippery floors, and only a few concrete steps for seats. Five-on-five. With only female soldiers as the guards. It was a match-up between the Kandahar Women’s Basketball Team and the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division Female Engagement Team Company, March 22.

The Kandahar team wore black warm-up suits with red and green stripes- the colors of the nation’s flag, paired with bright orange head-scarves.

Sarina Faizy, who works for the Kandahar Media Information Center, is one of the players for the Kandahar team. She also plays in Kabul. Faizy helps lead the way in teaching her fellow teammates to play.

The Kandahar players aren’t allowed to have a coach because of the security risks. They watch videos on YouTube to learn the rules of the sport, said Faizy.

Sgt. Shanon Sumter, a FET member attached to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, out of Forward Operating Base Azizzulah, and a native of Beaufort, S.C., played college basketball at the University of South Carolina prior to the Army.

“I felt since we’re all playing on the same level I was able to coach,” said Sumter. “It was just a very relaxed experience and I felt like it helped bring us a little bit closer together.”
“It was probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Spc. Jessica Mullet, a FET member and native of Gainesville, Fla.. “It was just a great international opportunity to play basketball with women from a different country.”
Throughout the game, when she was not on the court, she was yelling encouragement to her fellow teammates.
She also liked the fact the game allowed her to show people that soldiers are human beings, not always just military.

“For a minute, I felt like I was a civilian just playing basketball with another individual,” said Mullett.

With a borrowed gym from a local school, the Kandahar team makes a lot out of a little, practicing three hours daily before work. However, where they lack in resources, they make up for with enthusiasm. During the game, the cheers were loud enough to compare to fans in an NBA arena.

Sadia Azizi, a player for the Afghan team, has been playing basketball for five years. She likes the competition, and hopes to develop further.

Now that they have competed with Americans, Faizy thinks they are progressing as a team.

In the end the FET pulled out a win over the Afghans by only a few baskets.

“It was awesome to be a part of the first steps of women playing in a very male-dominant country,” said Sumter.
Sumter hopes one day she’ll see the Afghan team playing in the Olympics.

“They can honestly say in the beginning, they played against the first FET company in the Army, and that will hopefully be in the history books. We’re blessed to be a part of that.”
“After it was all said and done, it didn’t really matter who was wearing gold medals and who was wearing silver medals,” said Mullett. “We were all united.”


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Public Domain Mark
This work, March Madness scores in Kandahar City, by SSG Kristen Duus, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:03.22.2013

Date Posted:03.24.2013 07:33

Location:KANDAHAR, AFGlobe

Hometown:ARLINGTON, TX, US

Hometown:BEAUFORT, SC, US

Hometown:BROKEN ARROW, OK, US

Hometown:CHICAGO, IL, US

Hometown:GAINESVILLE, FL, US

Hometown:GOOSE CREEK, SC, US

Hometown:MAYODAN, NC, US

Hometown:MIAMI, FL, US

Hometown:OCALA, FL, US

Hometown:SAN ANTONIO, TX, US

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