News: Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13.3 Marines step it up on the gridiron
Story by Cpl. Ryan Joyner
SIGONELLA, Italy - A team of Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 are currently playing in the intramural flag-football league aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.
For the Marines and sailors, the gridiron allows them a place to escape from their daily tasks while working together building leadership, devotion, drive and endurance in an effort to defeat their enemy on the field.
The league is comprised of teams from various units and sections aboard NASSIG, from the hospital to the security forces; the same is of the task forces’ team, with representatives from various sections and teams.
“With the guys on our team coming from different backgrounds, there is a plethora of skills at the team’s disposal,” said Sgt. Patric Zimmerman, a disbursing auditor with the task force from Cheyenne, Wy.
Conducting practices with everyone on the team provides an additional challenge for the Marines because members come and go during the season to conduct theater security cooperation missions in Africa, something other teams do not face.
“Having guys leave and others come in takes a little bit of getting used to, be it learning the plays or just how each of us play,” said Zimmerman. “Once we got that, plays and scores started coming together.”
Even after the games are over, for the next couple of days talk of the games’ big plays and what the team can do to improve is heard throughout the task force’s offices and barracks.
“We already are a pretty tight knit unit and the team and football games bring us even closer together,” said Cpl. Jonathan Kirkman, task force fiscal chief from Slidell, La.
Even the Marines who are not on the team still show their support in the stands by chanting and yelling for their fellow Marines. With each game, the crowd in the stands grows.
The team currently holds a record of three wins, one loss and one tie and is looking to continue to improve.
“I am glad that we can come out and play the game. It is a good time and I look forward to playing the rest of season and coming out on top,” said Kirkman.
Editor’s Note: Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 allows U.S. Marine Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command the ability to build and grow strong relationships with partner nations in order to create a more stable region. The unit is a rotational force that participates in ta six-month pre-planned deployment cycle. This iteration is composed of Marines and sailors from more than 30 different active and reserve units from across the U.S., with the majority coming from 4th Combat Engineer Battalion based in Baltimore, Md.
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