News: A friendly battle between forces
Story by Sgt. Tamika Dillard
KABUL, Afghanistan – With the temperatures reaching a high of 82 degrees, crowds of Afghan locals packed the stands of Headquarters International Security Assistance Forces, Sept. 30, to witness a different type of battle.
The Afghan National Army and ISAF men’s soccer team battled it out with a grueling game of soccer [football], while Afghan locals danced and cheered for both teams.
Sixteen year old Hamid waved his country’s flag through the air with a great deal of pride as he watched the ISAF and ANA teams play together. Before the start of the game, Hamid tied his Afghan flag to a long wooden pole he found near his father’s bazaar stand.
“This was my fourth time watching the ISAF team play my team,” said Hamid. “It feels good to see everyone working together and playing together, it’s good for me and my country.”
The ISAF soccer team knew going into this game it would be tough to beat this skilled, highly trained Afghan National Army soccer team, but they continued to fight.
“We knew they would be really good,” said Josh Temblador, a state department political officer and native of Albany, N.Y. “They are young, in great shape and well trained.”
The 90 minute game was fast paced from beginning to end with the ISAF team keeping with the fundamentals of the game.
“This was a good game,” said Ali Wasir, mid fielder for ANA. “I enjoy each time we play the ISAF team, but this time it was different for me. They played us harder this time, more technical.”
Despite the 5-0 loss for the ISAF team, the real mission was accomplished.
“Today’s battle was one of building new friendships and strengthening relationships through a friendly game of soccer,” said British Army Capt. Keith Barber, ISAF’s soccer coach and native of Northeast England. “We all came out and we all had fun together. “
The battle between the two teams was the second time the teams played each other; the first game was in July, and the Afghan National Army team won, 6-1. More games are scheduled to follow between the two forces.
Games like this do not happen without the support of dedicated ISAF Morale and Welfare Activities staff members.
“I would like to thank Schigo [Jorg Schigowski] and Steveo [Stephen Weaver] for their part in organizing this match,” said Barber. “This includes buying new football strips [uniform], new goal nets and going all out to the extent of mowing the grass and painting the lines on the pitch.”
The ANA players and Afghan locals were very grateful that ISAF welcomed them with opened arms.
“The ISAF team is great to play against,” said Haji Mohammad, ANA team captain. “I like that we get to play together on ISAF. I look forward to the next time I get to play against them.”
At the end of the soccer game Col. Curtis Winstead, ISAF Base Support Group commander, presented players from both teams with ISAF t-shirts and certificates of appreciation to commemorate the friendly battle between the two forces.