At three years old, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brandon George, 700th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, joined the local soccer league in North Ridgeville, Ohio.
George could count on his family to support him and his love for soccer throughout his life.
“They drove me to soccer practice and tournaments all over the country,” said George. “They even supported me when I decided to go to college even though they didn’t think it was the right thing for me.”
While in college at Cleveland State University, George began to consider joining the U.S. Air Force, but he still wanted to pursue his interest in the sport. Before enlisting, he contacted the Air Force’s soccer team coach to ensure he would still be able to continue his soccer journey.
“I joined the military to become part of something bigger than myself,” said George. “I wanted to leave my hometown, and I wanted the opportunity to travel. My dad was in the Air Force and my brother is in the Air Force, so that motivated me to join as well.”
Once he joined the Air Force, it would be two years before he could try out for the soccer team.
After arriving at Kapaun Air Station, George began playing on local teams. He started playing for the Ramstein team, the Kaiserslautern Military Community team and playing with a local team in a German league. He was asked to officially join one of the German teams. He now plays with that team three times a week.
“I wanted to play with them to get more of the German experience, the culture, and the language,” said George. “Being a part of the German team builds camaraderie between Americans and the Germans. We get to exchange stories.”
In 2021 during Selectively Trained And Ready augmentee training, a program that provides general security forces and force protection knowledge to qualified Airmen within the Kaiserslautern Military Community, George injured his back. A year before the Air Force Soccer team’s tryouts, he needed to have surgery for a bulged disk.
“I knew I would have a hard time getting ready and back in shape for the tryouts, but we have a great physical therapy department at Ramstein,” said George.
After building his core strength back and overcoming his fear of hurting himself again, George decided to get back into soccer. He practiced three times a week to prepare.
“It was just about commitment, consistency and putting in the work every day preparing for my goal at the end of my recovery process,” he said.
George flew to Tampa, Florida, where he spent two and a half weeks trying out for the Air Force Men’s Soccer team. With only one day to get used to the time difference, George was one of 18 players who made the team.
“I was pretty nervous about the jetlag,” said George. “We just got right into it. You’re playing so much that you just wake up, eat, play soccer, sleep, play more soccer and sleep again.”
After tryouts, they immediately started practicing for the round-robin Armed Forces Tournament.
“It’s important that all of our players give 100 percent of their effort at every practice to make our team better,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremiah Kirschman, Air Forces Men’s Soccer team head coach. “I needed our players to have a winning mentality where they do everything to the best of their abilities.”
The Air Force Men’s Soccer team played the Marine Corps, Navy, and Army during the tournament. The Air Force team ended the 2022 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship undefeated with a 4-0 victory.
Throughout his Air Force journey and his journey to make the Air Force Men’s Soccer team, George received support from many people around him.
“I have an awesome squadron,” George said. “A strong support system is essential. Even though I had just moved to a new country I was able to establish that here. It got rough, so I’m thankful for them.”