By Mary J. Harding,
ACC Qatar, Contracting Officer
DOHA, Qatar - Representing one’s country in a sporting event overseas is an honorable and significant feat and a source of great pride for the participant. That rare opportunity was afforded to 20 fortunate U.S. Army and Air Force personnel stationed in, or temporarily deployed to Qatar, because they were chosen to serve on the United States Armed Forces soccer team.
Since the formation of the team, the players train at an off-post field for two hours in the evening, twice a week. These practice sessions are geared towards preparing the team to take on the more experienced Qatari Forces team during a weeklong Ramadan Tournament to be held in mid-July 2013, and then later in October 2013 for a tournament match against a different and even more experienced and formidable Qatari team.
The U.S. players went through two separate tryout sessions on May 24 and 29 in front of the team’s head coach, Emanuele Ciot, “Coach Em,” who is an Italian national working with American military forces present in Qatar. Coach Em said that although it was not easy having only two quick afternoon tryouts to pick team members from a group of 40 prospects, it is even more challenging getting the selected players ready for the July tournament given the short timeframe, less than two months, plus the varying skill levels and experience of each player. Still, Coach Em was thoroughly impressed with all of the players due to their commitment, motivation and enthusiasm for the sport that he loves and had played for 20 years before a back injury ended his participation in Italy’s grueling amateur soccer league circuit.
Although some players from the originally-chosen group had to withdraw from team participation due to work commitments and deployments, the current set of players and coaching staff are confident that the U.S. team will be very competitive during the tournaments. They have gone through various drills, exercises and tactical, endurance and strategic training, and their camaraderie, determination and dedication exemplify true team spirit. We wish the team well and look forward to great matches between them and our Qatari partners in the July and October tournaments.