By Sgt. Christopher Kozloski, 145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry DivisionJune 22, 2009
MOSUL, Iraq-Community members gathered to watch as an Iraqi Army officer ceremoniously kicked a soccer ball to signify the official completion of a soccer field construction project in a Mosul neighborhood May 30.
7 Nissan, known as Mosul's "model neighborhood," officially opened the field for public use as a result of a three month neighborhood cleanup project.
More than 1,000 local community members gathered to celebrate the opening of the soccer field and enjoy its first official soccer match. Two organized teams showed up for the opening and gave the crowd a memorable first game.
"The crowd cheered and clapped as a thrilling scissor-kick hit the cross bar on the goal," said Cpt. Joseph Himpelmann, commander of Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, "the Steel Dragons".
The idea to use the once trash-laden lot as a soccer field stemmed from the local community. As the Steel Dragon and Iraqi Army Soldiers spoke to residents in the neighborhood during their joint patrols, the common theme for a soccer field in the area emerged.
70 community members were hired in March to remove the trash and rubble from the lot. Chalk lines appeared in the dirt as the trash disappeared and children began dribbling soccer balls across the empty patch of dirt.
"By the end of April we started seeing organized soccer tournaments and the locals had drawn chalk lines on the field," said Himpelmann.
The finished field yielded a leveled and graded field, a chain link fence surrounding the field and a shaded set of bleachers for audiences to enjoy a good old fashioned soccer game.
During the field opening soccer game, Iraqi Army soldiers handed out soccer balls and radios to the neighborhood children.
"We felt the positive atmosphere in the neighborhood after the soccer match," said Himpelmann. "There were a lot of smiles as the people left."