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Coalition forces build camaraderie on ‘Sports Day’

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Coalition forces at Al Udeid Air Base competed in individual and team sports during Qatari National Sports Day, Feb. 12, 2019.

Competitions held during the sports day included basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming and table tennis, among others.  

“The Qatari Emir celebrates National Sports Day, the second most prominent national holiday, to promote the benefits of physical activity and encourage a healthy lifestyle,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Phillipich, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Host Nation Coordination Cell officer and event coordinator.  “Friendly sporting competitions provide the opportunity to strengthen the host nation partnership and build trust with Coalition forces.”

Master Sgt. Kareem Clyburn, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron B-1 aircraft section chief, said he enjoyed playing basketball with his host nation counterparts and recognized the benefits the competition created.

“The Qataris, as well as our service members, both benefited from gaining perspective of commonalities within our cultures in regards to team work and respect for the hard work that is required to be good at a sport,” said Clyburn. “I was really impressed by the skill of the Qataris and their outstanding sportsmanship. I hope this tradition continues because it will further understanding and respect in both of our militaries.”

After competitions concluded, service members congratulated each other for their victories as U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen Jason Armagost, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, cut a celebratory cake alongside Qatar Emiri Air Force leaders.

“We are grateful to the Qatari Emir and the Qatar Emiri Air Force for the invitation to participate in a great event,” said Phillipich. “Over 100 U.S. and Coalition members joined Qatar Emiri Air Force members and families to kick-off the holiday. Fun was had by all, building on a 5-year tradition of sport and camaraderie at Al Udeid Air Base.”

Qatar Emiri Air Force 1st Lt. Amur Ali Al Hinai, said he enjoyed the way the event allowed competitors to combine old friendships with new ones.

"It's a great day for everyone here,” said Al Hinai. “This day means a lot to us, especially for those who like sports. The U.S. and Qatar are like friends. It's not just sports … it’s sports plus meeting and finding friends. I like it and hope to see them again next year.”