Basketball game brings KFOR, Kosovo players together
Photo Credit: Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Mike Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Basketball players from the United States KFOR Soldiers and Kosovo came together Sunday evening for a game here. The visitors from the Ferizaj/Urosevac Kastrioti basketball club defeated the home Camp Bondsteel All-Stars 63-51, but the result of the game took a back seat to bolstering the long term friendship between the KFOR Soldiers and Kosovo. "I like to bring the team to Camp Bondsteel to play," said Mustaf Beqiri, coach of the Ferizaj/Urosevac team. "It helps build good relations. I hope to continue the partnership in the future." The players came together after the game for the traditional handshakes and for a group photo. Amari Stringfield of Camp Bondsteel's Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office made sure that all the Ferizaj/Urosevac players got Camp Bondsteel t-shirts before they left for home. "I think it was a big deal for the Kosovo players to come on camp here to play our All-Star Team," said Capt. Shayne E. Simon, Alexandria, Minn., a Multi-National Task Force-East staff officer who was one of the referees for the game. "Our players really liked the competition and I think the Kosovo ball players like the fact that they could say they played the Americans." The Friendship Basketball Game between U.S. KFOR 12 Soldiers and Kosovo players is a longtime tradition at Camp Bondsteel. MWR also sponsors volleyball and soccer matches each rotation between players from the KFOR. and Kosovo. Spc. Gerald T. Thomas, Pasadena, Calif., a Task Force 1-144th Soldier, who coached the All Stars, said the team came together about a month ago. Its practice schedule was limited because of the players' different mission schedules. "The players enjoyed playing against a talented team," Thomas said. "It gave them an experience playing against players from Kosovo." Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Cripe, Dickinson, N.D., Multi-National Task Force-East command sergeant major attended the game and said he enjoyed the event. "I wasn't the least bit surprised that Soldiers from all our task forces could work together and assemble a team in such a short period of time, because that is exactly what we've been doing from the very beginning when we were first alerted to our mission here." Cripe said. "I was very pleased that we were able to give the Kosovo plays a good game and build new friendships at the same time." -- Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S. led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This task force is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNTF-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo. Please contact the MNTF-E Public Affairs office for media engagements or to follow-up on this information. --30--
Page last updated Tue December 29th, 2009 at 08:32