PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A shopkeeper stands by his store in the Bagram Airfield bazaar Dec. 11. The bazaar brings in more than $30,000 into the local economy on a (click for more)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A member of the AUP performs a search during an AUP-led operation with Company A, 1st Battalion, 168 Infantry Regiment in Jaji District Dec. 16. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Local children watch members of Kapisa PRT pass as they leave the Abdul Salam High School in Ghayn Valley Dec. 15. (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Maj. Ted A. Broome (right), and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eleazar Vizcaino, both assigned to 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, evaluate a donkey at (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, speaks during the election ceremony for the Manogai District Community Council Dec. 9. (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Key elders listen intently while the U.S. and Polish ambassadors, Musa Khan, Ghazni provincial governor, and Amina Safi Afzaly, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speak (click for more)
U.S. Army Maj. Loren Adams, veternarian from New Liberty, Iowa, supervises as an Afghan veterinarian puts final sutures into a neutered dog at a continuing education conference organized by the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Actor and comedian Robin Williams talks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Combined Joint Task Force 101 and Regional Command East commander, before the (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, shakes a little girl's hand during the playground dedication at Ghazni City Orphanage in Ghazni Dec. 15. (click for more)
WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the spirit of friendship and celebration, an Afghan provincial governor invited coalition forces from two countries to participate in a soccer tournament at the Maiden Shahr Soccer Stadium Dec. 25.
Wardak Provincial Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai invited representatives from the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team and Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force Slugger, to play against a team of Afghan civilians from the province. The games came together from a simple challenge no one wanted to turn down.
“Governor Fidai challenged us to a soccer game, (and) we began a banter that is associated with good friends talking back and forth,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Phillip Chambers, TF Slugger commander from Helena, Mont. “It kind of grew a little bit bigger (and) included the Turkish PRT ...
“He wanted to use Christmas as a gesture, a friendship gesture,” continued Chambers. “He went all out with the trophies and medals and all the hoopla he has going on.”
Fidai, having already invited Chambers and some guests to his compound for Eid celebrations, viewed the soccer games as another opportunity to broaden relations and friendships with coalition forces.
“There was a plan in the works about this specific game. We had meetings and discussions with American and Turkish friends before the holidays came,” said Fidai. “I think it is a very good opportunity that we share entertainment with our friends; and it brings more attractions, more good partnership, not just political, but also things that all human being share with each other.”
The participants shared the game of football, or soccer as it is called in America. Coalition soldiers didn’t have much time to prepare for the game but welcomed the opportunity to have fun, relax and enjoy the day whether they won or not.
U.S. Army Cpl. Italo Macchiavello, a Las Vegas native and liaison to Wardak Province assigned to the Nevada Agricultural Development Team, was excited to play soccer with people he works with and enjoy the atmosphere.
“Sharing a day of relaxation and (being) able to just forget about everything going on in our areas to participate with our Turkish PRT friends, the coalition forces that we have here and (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials) who we are close with (means a lot),” said Macchiavello. “Having a day where we can just relax and be friends instead of having business work to do; that’s a huge difference for us.”
It was no accident the games took place on Christmas Day. Fidai understands it is important nations to share and respect other countries’ cultures.
“Every nation has its own holidays,” said Fidai. “We have certain holidays, and I think these holidays are opportunities for us to share our happiness and also show the respect for each one’s culture.”
The games started with coalition members playing against the Turkish PRT, with the winner getting an opportunity to play the Afghan civilian team in the final. Despite losing the game against the Turkish PRT, Chambers said he enjoyed playing in the game.
“I had a blast. It’s unfortunate we didn’t score a goal,” said Chambers. “We’ll have to practice a little more.”
The Afghan team beat the Turkish PRT to win the tournament in the final match and received a team trophy and gold medals. Despite not winning, U.S. Army Pfc. Enoch Acheamalog, a native of Baltimore and member of TF Slugger, said he considers more than just who won or lost.
“It’s good to enhance our (friendships) with the local nationals over here,” said Acheamalog. “So when we go around (their villages), they see us as friendly ... (and) ... can help ... to make our mission here a success.”
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