AUAB All-Stars and Qatari military score big during soccer scrimmage

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Soccer and كرة القدم have completely different pronunciations here in Qatar.  However, the word ‘partnership’ does not. Several U.S. and Qatari military members competed in a 70 minute soccer match to celebrate the U.S. Army 240th birthday June 14, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

On a regular basis during the past few months, airman, soldiers and sailors joined the Qatari security forces members during their physical training sessions for small games and scrimmages. Beginning six weeks ago, a joint decision was made between the two teams for coordination of a soccer match to help celebrate the Army 240th birthday celebration.   

“This weekend, we had a series of events to celebrate the 240th of the U.S. Army. We had a run on the base yesterday with about 500 people, and a cake cutting celebrating, “said Col. Alan Wiernicki, U.S. Army 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. “We wanted to do a bigger event to celebrate the army birthday weekend.”

Developing relationships was something that both teams have been able to accomplish over the past few months with the help of the coach Maj. Tenn Chowfen and other members from the 11th ADA.  This allowed the players to learn more about each other personally and culturally during their deployment.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for the Qataris and Americans to get out and practice sports diplomacy,” said Col. Jeff Merinkov. Camp As Sayliyah commander. “We’ve had a great relationship and friendship between our two countries and militaries for many years, and this is just one of many activities that are great to come out and enjoy.”

Between all the services that have been deployed to Al Udeid, keeping an ongoing relationship with rotating members can be a bit daunting. Through the Host Nation Coordination Cell, the coalition partnership with the Qatari military has led to consistently organizing events together. This helped the intramural soccer players from Al Udeid to expand their resources in joining the Qatari military for weekly practices.                 

“Initially this started over at the base gym, where they had intramural and we had a lot of people interested in soccer.  After the season ended the Host Nation Coordination Cell helped set it up were we could come over and play once a week,” said Capt Palmer Roberts. “This led to the base soccer team in joining the Qataris in weekly matches, and talking about future events.”

A tournament will be held June 21 through the 23rd, June 28th and 29th, with a final match July 1st. Building these types of networks through the world’s game with the host nation is paramount to the mission here at Al Udeid.  Most importantly, these ongoing soccer matches are a tremendous way to bridge the gap in cultural communication in this location and throughout CENTCOM – while having a little fun along the way.