News: Sports competition unites Kuwait, U.S. servicemembers
Story by Staff Sgt. Patrick Moes
By Staff Sgt. Patrick N. Moes
40th Public Affairs Detachment
KUWAIT— A sporting competition between two militaries Feb. 14 in Kuwait was the backdrop amid a festive spirit where two countries work together at a Persian Gulf port.
Members from the Kuwaiti military and U.S. servicemembers supporting Third Army/ U.S. Army Central participated in the Kuwaiti American Games.
The games, which have been held since 2003, gave participants the opportunity to strengthen relationships through friendly competition, said Air Force Capt. Karla Taff, a 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group Detachment 1 officer. She added they try to conduct the games at least twice a year.
The 11-event competition provided opportunities for each nation to create memories while displaying their talents. The events ranged from table tennis to water polo, but the common thread among all the events was the chance to compete.
"It's a very worthwhile event," said Sgt. Maj. Bobby Fletcher, the 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade operations sergeant major and table tennis competitor. "It allows [American servicemembers] to strengthen our relationship with the [Kuwait servicemembers]."
"It was a nice opportunity to compete against people from another country," said Petty Officer 1st Class Bryen Williams, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician with Operational Support Unit 7. "I love the camaraderie of bringing people together from different nations."
Williams participated in all three water sports. He played goalie during the water polo event, which he and his team would eventually lose to the Kuwaitis in a hard-fought battle in the final minutes. He then jumped right into the 50-meter swim, where he finished in first place. If that were not enough, Williams concluded his day as a member of a 200-meter relay team that also took first place.
Although victories were nice, the participants had the opportunity to dispel stereotypes they may have had.
"You get everybody together and it's people being people playing sports," said Williams.
Taff said "a common stereotype is that Kuwaitis don't treat women as equals but in doing these games they worked hand-in-hand with [female servicemembers]."
The day concluded with an awards ceremony for the participants at the camp gymnasium. Military members from both nations mingled with each other during the ceremony sharing stories and laughs while making bonds that will last a lifetime.
Medals and trophies were issued to the winners along with well-deserved applauses from both Kuwaitis and Americans alike. The final scores were added for the team competition and the score was announced. A 36-36 tie would be echoed through the gymnasium. It was a fitting conclusion to a day to bring friendships together through sports.
"Everybody benefits from [these events], concluded Fletcher, the 35-year military veteran. "It's an overall good thing that we need to have more often."