Air Force wins Armed Forces Men’s Soccer championship

  • Published
  • By Airman Cade Ellis

The Air Force men's soccer team won the 2024 Armed Forces Men's Soccer Championship at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, April 9, 2024.

The Air Force team beat the Navy, Marine Corps, and won the championship game against the Army in a bracket style competition. The tournament aimed to foster camaraderie between the military branches, strengthening the unity of our armed forces.

“It’s all about friendship through sport. If we can come out here and meet people from other branches, it creates this brotherhood,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremiah Kirschman, Air Force men's soccer coach. “Showing that we are all working toward the same common goal in the military and to see our different strengths come together.”

The championship game holds a prestigious place within the military community, and the Air Force team dedicated a significant effort to prepare for this year's tournament.

For two weeks prior to the championship, Kirshman noted the team trained twice a day in Valdosta, Georgia – preparing mentally and physically to play against the other branches.

This year, the Air Force team welcomed one of Team Moody’s own – Senior Airman Jairo Valencia, 71st Rescue Generation Squadron aircraft electrical and environmental specialist and the team’s central defensive midfielder. Valencia started playing soccer when he was 4 years old after his father introduced him to the sport. He was invited to try out for the team by the head coach, and proved himself during their practices and scrimmages, earning a walk-on spot on the team.

“It meant a lot to me to be able to represent my service branch and ultimately my country playing the game I love,” Valencia said.

The soccer tournament allowed Valencia the opportunity to meet Airmen from across the country and build a greater sense of unity as an armed forces member.

“I didn't know any of these guys in the beginning, and now they feel like my brothers,” Valencia said. “I have friendships I know will last a lifetime.”

The Air Force clinched victory with a thrilling 3-2 win in this year's tournament, thanks to a game-tying goal by Valencia that propelled the match into overtime.

“It felt really good to hit the game-tying goal during the final minutes of regulation - especially with my family in the stands watching,” Valencia added. “To win it all during overtime is a feeling I’ll remember for my whole life.”

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