Friday, June 17, 2005

Balls instead of Bombs

Some of the soldiers in our unit get together with some of the local villagers for a weekly game of soccer. Soccer in this part of the world (they call it football) is like football in the U.S. They are very passionate about the sport, begin playing at a young age, and follow their favorite teams. Personally, running up and down a field chasing after a ball in 100+ degree weather looks a little like "work" to me so I haven't actually played yet. Not to mention the Iraqis are really good at this sport so we usually take a schlacking (They even loaned us some guys in order to even the odds). However, I did take some photos at the last game in order to show you some more good stories you won't see on the evening news.

This little guy was a bit too young to play, but he anxiously stood on the sidelines anyway.

They take their soccer very seriously.

Team mates discussing strategy.

They even beat us playing bare-footed. Since most of these guys grew up without any shoes they can tolerate just about anything. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see one of them walk over a bed of hot coals.

Having an irrigation ditch on one side of the field and barbed wire on the other presented some interesting challenges. I think you'll agree by the picture, however, that it presented some opportunities as well.

Regardless of the score, I think both sides won.


Blogger Nancy said...

It is great to see these photos!! It looks like the Government needs to start training you guys so you won't be so humiliated by these guys... Go USA!

7:29 AM  
Blogger John said...

My apologies to "Wayne's Mom" and "slipperycatsanddogs" who left comments on what was a seperate post called "Helping Hand". That post was not part of the plan and an oversight on my part so I removed it. But I do appreciate the comments you left.


9:10 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Thanks for showing us this other side of things going on over there! Once again, things you don't see on the news... Looks like lots of fun but I don't blame you for not playing in the heat, LOL.

9:39 AM  
Blogger armynurseboy said...

One of my favorite memories of Iraq was on the 4th of July. We had a sports day on Al Asad and invited the Baghdadi (the small town just outside our gates) police to come on base to share our celebration and play soccer with us. These guys smoked us! Most were playing barefoot on dirt and rocks or shared cleats with each other when they subed in. And after talking to our CAS guys, we found out that this wasn't even their varsity squad, but a bunch of guys they threw together at the last minute. They also had a cheering section up in the stands doing Iraqi cheers, singing and dancing. It was quite neat to see.

Of course, we told them next time we were going to play them in basketball...... ;o)

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Shelly and Jessic said...

Amazing pictures John! Just like sticking his head in the oven, Jess would be right in the middle of that game! LOL


12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a stranger from New Hamsphire who discovered your blog sometime around Memorial Day. I started reading and couldn't stop, and finally went back and read the whole thing from the beginning. I've told friends about it, and continue to keep up with it now.

I wanted to write to say thank you for giving yourself for the sake of our country, and for all of us. Your sacrifice is noticed and appreciated deeply.

And I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday! For a gift I will pray that God will bring you safely home to your family with your mission successfully accomplished.

Thank you for all you are doing, and thank you for your blog which is a great window into what's going on over there.

With honor and thanks, and trusting for God's blessing and protection on you and yours,

A wife and mother

PS I wanted to say a special thank you to your wife as well: What a tremendous sacrifice she is making during this year. A friend of mine has a t-shirt that reads "Army Wife: toughest job in the world" and I have no reason to disagree! Thank you Amy, and I'm praying for you and your children too.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

big brother

your two younger brothers would smoke everyone on that field give me a break mr offense and mr defense no problem, playing barefoot, shoot we could play standing on our hands and still win


2:53 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...


I have just come across your blog, totally by accident! I was posting on mine and started looking at the other random blogs!

I am half Iraqi (father is Iraqi and mother is English). I was born in Baghdad, Iraq and have now been living in London, UK, since 1994. I lived in Baghdad for 15 years! And so have been through both wars (Iran-Iraq between 1980 and 1988 - and the Gulf war). I am so happy to have found your blog! It is so refreshing to read some POSITIVE views!

Thanks so much and I shall be checking your blog frequently! Keep up the good work and we all aprreciate what you are doing! All our wishes and thoughts are with you and your family!

3:47 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Wow Daddy! First, those pictures are amazing. I seriously think you need to find something you can do to continue to share you new-found tallent. And secondly, the media needs to start to look at the bright side. No one has said anything positive about the war, and it is getting on my nerves! This blog is really opening everyone's eyes, including mine, to all of the good that you, and everyone else is doing over there. Thank you for all you are doing! I love you so much, and I will see you soon.



6:51 PM  
Anonymous Holly - A Soldiers' Angel said...

I agree - I LOVE positive news. This story is getting linked to in my blog. I'd have just left a trackback but I can't! Great pictures too - and great sense of humor :0)

PS. I see Jessica said Happy Birthday. If it's your birthday than I wholeheartedly second the motion....HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too found your blog by accident--though maybe it wasn't after all... its great! Thank you for everything you do everyday, for all your sacrifices and hard work for us. You make us proud! Thank you for this post and the pics. Its wonderful to hear about the positive things happening there. And Happy Birthday from PA too--whenever it happens to be!
a soldiers angel

11:31 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!! (June 18)

I am so proud of you my darling soldier.

I love you and count the days until we are all together as a family again.

All my Love,

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy birthday old man,

getting a little close to 40 arent you, wow thats old


7:22 AM  
Blogger JarheadDad said...

Aw, you Doggies! You might want to recruit a few Marines to help you out in the soccer matches! heh!

Juuuust teasin'!

My son talks about the matches he has played over there. Fortunately there are quite a few Jarheads that grew up playing soccer in his BN. So far they've managed to hold their own. He's hoping there will be some playing time on this next deployment. Wasn't much on the last one. There's a bunch of really good players (Army and Marine) that hang out at Arifjan in Kuwait. Maybe y'all could fly them in for a "special" match! :-o

I send Da Grunt boxes of soccer balls when he is deployed. Says he needs that many because every time he pings a ball around with the youngsters they run off with 'em! ;-)

Great Stuff!
Keep The Faith! :-)

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Uncle John! Sam LOVED these pictures! You are in our prayers everyday. And we hope you have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
Just think of the celebration you and your family will have when you come home!

Love, Jeff, Marcy, Brynna and Sam

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, bagdaddy! HAPPY B-DAY! ok well im wondering when im gonna see you in some of those soccer (or football) pics?! you know your not that old! maybe you could learn some "moves" and try to beat seth and I when you come for your R&R. well, we're counting down the days until we are together again. i love you!

jenny :P

9:18 PM  
Blogger F.C. Bearded said...

Getting the ball back - a timeless classic.

9:19 AM  
Blogger membrain said...

Another great post! I hope you had a happy birthday. You certainly have a loving family. Keep safe.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John,

I love checking in to see what has been happening with you. You should really consider putting this into book form when you get back, it's really incredible.
We continue to pray for you daily. Ann and Jess have spoken and your family is very excited about seeing you soon.
We will continue to press in with prayer for you and them, Thank You for all y'all are doing.
Much love, Beth and Fizz and clan:)

10:35 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I just found your blog this morning and am I glad I did. I don't even watch the news anymore for all the lopsided reporting. It's so nice to see the lighter side (if there is such a thing) of the war. Thanks for taking the time to share this with all of us.


8:02 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Your artical in USA Weekend reminded me of Pap Steel and his story of playing football (AKA soccer) with Germans during a Christmas day during WW1. How, well sport can unite the world.

7:09 AM  

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