"For someone to win, someone has to lose,"said Col. Doug Stilwell, the commanding officer for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). But, sometimes, both sides are dealt a winning hand. As one side won a game, both sides won a victory in building friendships.
Marines and sailors from the 22nd MEU(SOC) and their Navy counterparts from USS Kearsarge combined to take on the Maltese armed forces in a much-anticipated intramural soccer match.
It was evident that the"blue/green" team was headed for trouble from the start. Conceding their first goal in the sixth minute of the match, they appeared to come apart at the seams but still managed to keep in step with the seemingly well-oiled Maltese team.
"The effort is there, all that's missing is team work,"explained two-time all Marine soccer-team player Cpl. Gabriel Valladares.
The Marines and sailors, who had played together only once before this match, were faced with yet another obstacle in form of a graveled field. The field was more akin to a cement parking lot covered in powdery dust with rocks that could slice open flesh like a razor, said one player.
This hindered the Marines as they struggled to keep their footing, and slowly lost the advantage of youth, speed and agility to the older, more experienced home team fielded by members of the Maltese armed forces.
"This is my first time playing on a graveled field,"said Seaman Miguel Montoya, a corpsman with the MEU. Although the Marines and sailors only had one practice the day before the match, Montoya said it helped him maintain his footing on game day.
While talking to his Marines and sailors at the end of the game, Stilwell stressed the importance of good sportsmanship and thanked the players for a good clean game. Even though the game ended in a 5-1 victory in favor of the home team, the Marines and sailors achieved a greater victory in by reinforcing a lasting friendship between the two countries.
The 22nd MEU(SOC), part of the Kearsarge Strike Group, is currently underway on a scheduled six month deployment.