USAFE soccer team practices for AIRCOM Championship

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Kristof Rixmann
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The United States Air Forces in Europe men’s and women’s soccer teams practiced in Kaiserslautern, Sept. 13 to 17, in preparation for the Allied Air Command Soccer Championship in Lechfeld, Germany, Sept. 18 to 22.

The team rosters include some of the most elite athletes from USAFE. Many of these Airmen have played on this team together in the past and all of them have a long history of playing the game at a high level.

Lt. Taylor Moore played soccer at the University of Florida and after commissioning through the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School played two years on the All Air Force soccer team. Players from the All Air Force soccer team are often recruited to then play for the USAFE team.

“I appreciate the tight knit atmosphere of our team,” said Moore, who is playing on the USAFE team for the first time. “Playing for the USAFE team allows you to make connections with people all over Europe you’d otherwise never have a chance of meeting and that can really help streamline the Air Force mission.”

Women’s Team Captain 1st Lt. Leah McNell, 48th Medical Support Squadron clinical engineering chief, agreed.

“Traveling Europe, being stationed in England and getting the opportunity to travel Germany to play soccer are all opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to experience without the Air Force,” said McNell, whose extensive soccer resume includes participating in the Military World Games held through the International Military Sports Council. “It’s really amazing and I come back from these soccer trips feeling refreshed and humbled to know I represented the United States in the best way I could.”

Playing in the AIRCOM Soccer Championship provides Airmen an avenue to pursue sports while serving and keeps them motivated. Additionally, participation in this prestigious event is important to the mission by giving representation for the USA and USAFE on an international scale.

“Having the opportunity to represent AIRCOM and USAFE is a true honor,” said Lt. Col. Derrick Weyand, the USAFE men’s and women’s head coach. “Not only do we get to strive for excellence in everything we do, but we’re being put on a pedestal to represent our country. So, not only do we represent our country off the field, but we also get to do it on the soccer field.”

The two USAFE soccer teams will find tough competition this year at the championship competition with matchups against the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Royal Air Force team, and last year’s reigning AIRCOM Soccer champions, Poland. This year, the teams’ are optimistic.

“I think practice is going very well for both the men’s and women’s team,” said Weyand. “I feel very confident with the men’s team going to the championship round for the simple fact that we have a lot of returning players. The teams’ athleticism is truly second to none.”

The players feel just as confident as their head coach in their upcoming performance.

“This year, we know each other better than ever,” said Moore. “We’re going to do the best we can and I feel very confident in how we will perform on game day.”

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe women’s soccer team poses for a photo at SV Bann field Sept. 14. The team practiced in preparation for the Allied Air Command Soccer Championship in Lechfeld, Germany.

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe men’s soccer team poses for a photo on a soccer field in Bann Sept. 14. The USAFE soccer team will find tough competition with matchups against the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Royal Air Force team, and last year’s reigning Allied Air Command Soccer champions, Poland.