CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Soldiers of the 163rd Ordnance Detachment, 395th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), played the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Inc. guards, employees of a civilian contractor, in the first of what became regular soccer matches at the field here Dec. 12.

The EODT guards, who were Ugandan natives, formed their own soccer team and needed an opponent to challenge on the soccer pitch.

The Soldiers of the 163rd, from Southern California, answered the call and continued to play weekly matches with the EODT guards.

Spc. Oswald Martinez, a Los Angeles native and the team's captain and coach, convinced the Soldiers to get involved with playing soccer. Martinez, who played on club teams back home, said he felt it was important for the 163rd to establish a soccer team to increase unit cohesion and to conduct physical training at the same time.

Martinez said he spoke to the guards to ask if they had a team and was delighted when they told him they did and needed an opponent to play.

Martinez explained how he assembled a soccer team of 17 soldiers to challenge the EODT guard team. The first game resulted in a 2-2 draw. Since the first game, the 163rd soccer team and the EODT guard soccer team played nine times. The matches were usually held Monday through Friday and kickoff was usually around 7:30 p.m.

There were no referees so both teams had to play fairly in order to achieve success, he said.

Staff Sgt. Carlos Maldonado, an ammunition inspector with the 163rd and soccer team member said, "I love the challenge of playing the EODT guards because it is really intense, and you really have to play tough."

Each half was 45 minutes in length and players were substituted freely, Maldonado said.

The 163rd planned to continue to keep up relations with their EODT guard counterparts, stay competitive, and have fun while playing sports, Martinez said.

The 163rd Soldiers said they will challenge the EODT guard team on the pitch, until they are no longer at Q-West.