Stuttgart Wins IMCOM-Europe Soccer Title
Wiesbaden's Kyle Horner, right, struggles to maintain control of the ball as Stuttgart's Ivan Nakoneczny goes in for the steal.

CAMP DARBY, Italy - Two soccer teams from U.S. garrisons in Germany battled for the Installation Management Command-Europe soccer championship, with Stuttgart defeating Wiesbaden 2-1.

After a scoreless first half, Stuttgart scored seven minutes into the second when Shannon Reid put the Stallions ahead with a 30-yard kick.

The scored remained 1-0 until late in the match when Wiesbaden's Osmond Mbaeri punched in a shot to tie the game for the Eagles. However, Stuttgart's Richmond Opoku quickly responded to put his team ahead for good.

"Wiesbaden is a really good team," said Stuttgart's player/coach Kwesi Adinkrah. "For the last five years, we have placed in the top three. This is the first year that we have come in first."

Having to compete shorthanded, Hiram Johnson, the Eagles player/coach, applauded his team's effort. "To even come within a goal after playing the whole tournament with 10 men was exceptional," Johnson said.

The Eagles efforts were also praised by others. Stuttgart player Richard Guffey said: "I was impressed at how hard Wiesbaden played the entire tournament (while) short one man on the field, with no substitutes available."

"One of their guys played hurt. You have to commend a team like that, especially since they placed second in the tournament," he added.

With mission operation tempos remaining high for Army units in Europe, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to support sporting events that take troops away from their home garrisons. Besides Stuttgart and Wiesbaden, only two other community teams participated in the four-day tourney: Mannheim and host Livorno.

The main reason that others team did not make the tourney "is increased military commitments and deployments," said Kelly Nebel, sports programmer for IMCOM-Europe.

In fact, "We started the season with eight teams," Nebel noted. "But Schweinfurt had to withdraw because of deployments. We were able to add the Hessen team as a replacement; however, Grafenwoehr (then) had to withdraw."

"We had a really motivated team with a great coach, Patrick O'Brien, who played on the German team FC Kaltenbrunn," said Tony Lee, chief of recreation programming branch at Grafenwoehr. "(Every) Soldier came from one unit, so when it deployed, we regretfully had to pull out of the league after the third game."

For the communities represented at the soccer championship, "We truly appreciate the commitment and dedication of garrisons that sent their teams to Italy," Nebel said. "Their efforts really exemplify the importance of sports competitions and recreational opportunities for all Soldiers, civilian and family members."

Manheim coach John Enrique echoed Nebel's remarks. His team started practice in March 2007 with thirty players, with 17 traveling to Camp Darby.

"The biggest help (came from) sports facility managers, Theodus Green and Jessie Dayton, who did all the footwork," Enrique said. "And with 75 percent of our players coming from 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment; 95th Military Police Battalion and 5th Signal Command, we (truly appreciated) the backing of their commanders."

Stuttgart's Adinkrah chimed in: "Most of our players came from 1st of the 10th Special Forces Group, so we really appreciate the chain of command's support."

"Sports leagues and competitions are especially beneficial to help alleviate stress in a positive, constructive way," Nebel said during the tournament's closing ceremonies.

Page last updated Fri October 26th, 2007 at 07:57