FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. –
Women’s soccer players from nine countries clad in their military dress uniforms filed into a Fairchild Air Force Base hangar on Sunday afternoon.
The U.S. hosted the opening ceremonies of the 2022 Conseil International Du Sport Militaire [CISM] World Women’s Soccer Championship marking the fourth time Americans have played host to the event and the 13th tournament in CISM history. Games will be held at Union Stadium north of Spokane, Washington.
Each team stood in formation within the sprawling hangar as the U.S. Chief of Delegation to CISM Steven Dinote welcomed the athletes and the public to the multi-national tournament, which features 10 days of two matches in pool play followed by the championship and final placement games on July 22. A total of 10 teams will compete in the tournament, including Belgium which arrived late and was unable to attend the ceremonies.
CISM founders formed the international sports association in 1948 to encourage friendship and cooperation among the world’s militaries.
The teams last competed at the 2019 CISM Military World Games held in Wuhan, China, in October 2019.
“It has been a few years since we have been together,” said Dinote, who also serves as the official CISM representative. “But we are back to once again share our friendship through sport.”
The teams competing in the tournament are: the United States, Ireland, Cameroon, Belgium, Mali, South Korea, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Canada.
Dinote noted that the U.S. recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which eliminated sex-based discrimination and afforded female and male athletes equal opportunities to compete in sports.
Women’s soccer has also grown in popularity following the U.S. women’s national team’s gold medal finish at the 2012 Olympics. Bill Taylor, the U.S. Soccer Federation Vice President also sat in attendance.
“The U.S. Armed Forces continues to embrace our women athletes and are thankful to host again here in Spokane,” Dinote said.
Members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians entertained the audience with traditional performance including a “whip” dance, which is traditionally exhibited at pow wows. The Fairchild Spirit dance team also joined tribe members in a combined performance.
Dinote thanked Fairchild’s leadership including Air Force Col. Cassius Bentley, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander and Col. Charles Fletcher, 92nd Mission Support Group commander, who helped coordinate and organize the event.
Fletcher officially declared the opening of the event in his remarks.