COS KALSU, Iraq - Few things bring people together quite like friendly competition, nor remind them so well of how much more their common interests matter than their differences.

In this spirit, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, sponsored an eight-team Armed Forces Day soccer tournament at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, May 14 and 15, 2010.

The two-day event had players from seven countries competing against one another: Uganda, Kenya, Iraq, the U.S., Nepal, the U.K. and Bosnia.

"This was our own World Cup event," said Col. Pete Jones, commander of the 3rd HBCT. "These players, pulled together by the conveyance of forces in Babil Province, are proving that the language of sports and competition doesn't have boundaries, and we have more in common with each other than we realize."

Teams representing the 3rd HBCT, the Babil Police, Babil University, the 31st and 33rd Iraqi Army Brigades, the Sabre International security company, and KBR, competed against one another in 100-degree weather to win the 3rd HBCT Armed Forces Day trophy.

During a tournament which featured seven competitive matches, Babil University defeated the 33rd Iraqi Army Brigade in the final game to win the coveted prize.

"I think this was a very good idea," said 1st Lt. Thameem Mard, the physical fitness trainer for the 34th IA Brigade. "We know this is the first time this event has happened, but we all hope it won't be the last."

Mard's unit had very little time to prepare for the tournament, but he said they still liked the idea of competing in it.

"Our missions only left us four days to prepare, but we play all the time for fun," he said. "Everyone was very excited to come over here and play."

Although the U.S. team lost on the second day of the event, many of the Soldiers that participated were glad they were able to take part in the tournament.

"When I was deployed to Iraq in 2003, I never thought I'd be playing a game of soccer with Iraqis," said Sgt. 1st Class Pablo Palomar, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

"Hopefully there will be more events like this to show the progress we have made here," he said. "Stories like this give everyone back home a better idea of what is going on here now."
Palomar, a native of San Antonio, was proud of how he and his teammates played together.

"I think we showed that no matter what we are doing, the Army is always one team," he said. "We were from different sections and units, but we didn't have to talk to each other much while we were playing. We knew what the other guy was going to do. You could say we were an 'Army of one' playing together."

For Cpl. Matthew Reed, HHC, BSTB, the tournament was a unique experience he wouldn't trade for the world.

"Last deployment, we were so busy, we would have never had time to do anything like this," he said. "Being able to come together with the Iraqis is what it is all about. I'm glad we got to show everyone that we can work together and play together."

Reed, a native of Gulfport, Miss., said the only thing he would change about the event is where his team finished.

"Of course, we really wanted to win," he said. "I would really love the chance to do this again. The teams we played had a lot of endurance, but I'd like another chance to compete and win."

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