Soldiers unite on the indoor soccer battlefield in pursuit of the Commander's Cup

By Pfc. Walker PinoJune 9, 2023

Soldiers unite on the indoor soccer battlefield in pursuit of the Commander's Cup
Colombian army 1st Sgt. Diego Artunduaga, a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, participates in the Commander's Cup as part of the academy’s team at Logan Heights Physical Fitness Center Fort Bliss, Texas, May 24, 2023. Indoor soccer takes place from May 1 through June 22 of every fiscal year. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Walker Pino) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Walker Pino) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BLISS, Texas — The sound of soccer shoes squeaking on the gym floor reverberates through the air as Soldiers sprint, maneuver, and skillfully kick the ball to each other. Two teams battle for the win as the final seconds tick away.

Goal! As the clock hits zero, the referee blows his whistle and six players celebrate another win with their teammates.

One of the many ways units build cohesion is through playing a sport together. The Fort Bliss Commander's Cup stands tall as a beacon of unit morale, physical fitness, and unwavering unity.

“We participate in the Commander's Cup every year,” said Master Sgt. Benny Canales, a student at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, "The academy's goal is to provide cohesion by participating in every sport available.”

From May 1st to June 22nd, Soldiers from different units come together to battle for the Commander's Cup.

The Sergeants Major Academy is one of eleven indoor soccer teams participating in the tournament. The top eight teams in the Commander’s Cup compete with the winner being crowned champion.

“Playing soccer in any of its modalities is my relaxation time,” said 1st Sgt. Diego Artunduaga, a student at the Sergeants Major Academy and a soldier in the National Army of Colombia. Their team is made up of 18 students from multiple countries.

“I get to see these great players from all around the world come together and play as a team,” said Canales. Artunduaga and Canales have over 40 years of service between them. However, their time in service does not stop them from outperforming other teams composed of much younger Soldiers.

After outdoor soccer ended last October, the academy practiced for months leading up to May–the start of the indoor soccer season. Their record this year currently stands at five wins and one loss.

As graduation looms just a few weeks away, the team remains resolute, their winning mindset unshakable, regardless of the outcome of each game. Canales focused on the power of teamwork during the tournament.

“It is tough competing with some of the young Soldiers,” said Canales, “but we are able to keep up thanks to our teammates.”