WUHAN, China –
Members of the Armed Forces Sports Men’s Soccer Team took to the field against foreign militaries during the 7th CISM Military World Games in Wuhan, China.
Earlier this year during the Armed Forces Sports Soccer Tournament at Naval Station Everett in Washington, 19 service members from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps were selected to represent the United States at the world games, held every four years.
After a 10-day training camp last month, these men joined about 250 other members of U.S. Armed Forces Sports in Wuhan to begin the preliminary rounds of championship competition in 17 sports. Their first soccer match was against Qatar.
“Going into those games we had an idea of what the level would be like, so for us, we were a little enamored with the fact that they are just that good,” said Army 1st Lt. Nick Williams about the competition.
“There are certain mistakes that you can’t make at the international level. During the Qatar game, we had a majority of the possession, but we lost focus for ten minutes and we were down three goals. So the mistakes you make at the domestic level, you can’t afford to make on the international level.”
Losing the game 3-1, the team felt the pressure to perform during their match against Ireland a few days later.
“While we were a little bummed knowing that we are out of the competition going into our next game, I think we’ve done a good job at keeping a good attitude,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Joey Huang. “This is just one of a handful of times that we’ll be able to represent the U.S. and I think our team has done a good job at sticking together and not losing focus.”
Despite their intense drive, the team fell short when facing Ireland with a score of 2-0 at their second match.
“We were the better team in both of matchups, but we had a lapse in focus that they were able to take advantage of,” said Williams. “Despite that, the experience has been great. Realizing that you are what people see as the United States -- which is a rare feeling… makes our team proud to be here.”
The team’s final matchup against Algeria ended with a score of 8-0.
The CISM Military World Games, held by the Conseil International du Sports Militaire, features military athletes from 109 nations with about 10,000 participants this year.