• AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin, the Al-Madain community sports chairman, talks with Lt. Col. Michael Shinners, of Alexandria, Va., during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Shinners, the deputy commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, along with paratroopers visited several soccer fields in the region to prepare for an upcoming series of soccer clinics and tournaments that will be organized by FC Unity, a London-based organization that promotes the development of unity through soccer-based programs. Members of the FC Unity are scheduled to hold several soccer clinics across eastern Baghdad in mid-May.

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin, the Al-Madain...

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin, the Al-Madain community sports chairman, talks with Lt. Col. Michael Shinners, of Alexandria, Va., during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Shinners, the deputy commander of the...

  • AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin (left), the Al-Madain community sports chairman, walks with Lt. Col. Michael Shinners (center), of Alexandria, Va., during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Shinners, who serves as the deputy commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, surveyed several soccer fields in the region in preparation for an upcoming series of soccer clinics and tournaments that will be organized by FC Unity. Along with the soccer-based programs, the organization will also donate soccer uniforms and equipment to hundreds of aspiring soccer players across Baghdad.

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin (left), the...

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Sa'ad Salmin (left), the Al-Madain community sports chairman, walks with Lt. Col. Michael Shinners (center), of Alexandria, Va., during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Shinners, who serves...

  • AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Lt. Col. Michael Shinners (center), of Alexandria, Va., shows a group of children a soccer ball with the name Pfc. Nick Madaras written on it while telling them the meaning behind the ball during a site assessment mission April 18 in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood. Shinners, who serves as the deputy commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, told them the ball was donated by the "Kick for Nick" organization in honor of the fallen Soldier whose wish was to share his love of soccer with the children of Iraq. Madaras was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations Sept. 3, 2006.

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Lt. Col. Michael Shinners...

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Lt. Col. Michael Shinners (center), of Alexandria, Va., shows a group of children a soccer ball with the name Pfc. Nick Madaras written on it while telling them the meaning behind the ball during a site assessment mission April 18 in...

  • AL-MADAIN, Iraq - 1st Lt. Benjamin Martin, of Sarasota, Fla., prepares to hand a soccer ball to a charging group of Iraqi children during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Martin, who serves as the executive officer for Company B, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, and other paratroopers donated several soccer balls donated by the "Kick for Nick" organization. The organization was founded in honor of Pfc. Nick Madaras whose wish was to collect soccer balls and give them to the children of Iraq. Madaras was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations Sept. 3, 2006.

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - 1st Lt. Benjamin Martin, of...

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - 1st Lt. Benjamin Martin, of Sarasota, Fla., prepares to hand a soccer ball to a charging group of Iraqi children during a site assessment mission April 18 in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad. Martin, who serves as the executive...

  • AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Local children in an Al-Madain neighborhood of eastern Baghdad play a pick-up game of soccer after receiving a new donated ball April 18. Paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, handed out several balls donated by the "Kick for Nick" organization. The organization was founded in honor of Pfc. Nick Madaras whose wish was to collect soccer balls and give them to the children of Iraq. Madaras was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations Sept. 3, 2006.

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Local children in an...

    AL-MADAIN, Iraq - Local children in an Al-Madain neighborhood of eastern Baghdad play a pick-up game of soccer after receiving a new donated ball April 18. Paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National...

BAGHDAD - The love of soccer in Iraq is no secret. During a site assessment mission of local area soccer fields, U.S. Army paratroopers brought the spirit of the game and the legacy of a fallen Soldier to the neighborhoods of eastern Baghdad, April 18.

Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad spread the love of the "world's game" to several eastern Baghdad soccer fields by donated soccer balls to area children.

The balls were donated by the "Kick for Nick" organization. The organization was founded in honor of Pfc. Nick Madaras, who was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations in Baquba, Iraq on Sept. 3, 2006.

Nick wanted to help the children of Iraq and spread his love of soccer to the Iraqi children. While on leave from Iraq in July 2006, Nick collected as many soccer balls as he could in order to bring back to Iraq and distribute them to the children.

Unfortunately the 19 year-old Soldier from Wilton, Conn., would never get his opportunity to fulfill his goal. But his passion for the sport and his desire to share his love of the game inspired the founding of the organization in order to fulfill his wish.

During the assessment mission, Lt. Col. Michael Shinners, the deputy commander of 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., gathered several children while holding a donated ball with Nick Madaras name written on it. He then told them the story behind the ball.

"This ball was donated by the family of a Soldier who was killed here," he said. "He was a great soccer player and it was his wish to make sure you guys have this ball and play soccer. Here is a ball so you guys can play with and make sure you remember him."

Honoring Nick's memory was just one part of the day-long mission. Shinners traveled to several fields in the region to conduct a site survey in preparation for an upcoming series of soccer clinics and tournaments scheduled to be held in mid-May. The events will be organized and hosted by FC Unity and supported by Iraqi and U.S. officials.

FC Unity, a London-based organization aims to provide a platform for development and education through a series of soccer programs.

During a meeting with the Al-Madain regional sports community chairman, Shinners explained the organization will hold several training sessions and friendly games for children of all ages. The organization will also donate soccer equipment such as uniforms and balls to hundreds of children who participate in the program.

The news was received with great joy by the chairman. He then told Shinners the help will be much appreciated because 80 percent of the soccer equipment the area children have is self-dependant.

"This is a great gift for us," said Sa'ad Salmin. "This is a true sign of friendship and this will really help us fix some of the problems with our programs."

In the spirit of the event, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces will also pair up from across eastern Baghdad and participate in a tournament as a symbol of partnership.

For more information on the Kick for Nick organization, please visit www.kickfornick.org.

For more information on the FC unity organization, please visit www.fcunity.com.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16