Flying Tigers soccer team to go to Defender’s Cup

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sandra Marrero
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
This year, Moody's intramural soccer team has achieved an unprecedented accomplishment.

The Flying Tigers Football Club, with the help of its new coaches, has gone from playing matches against local teams to preparing for the Defender's Cup, an annual military soccer tournament scheduled to take place Labor Day weekend near Joint Base San Antonio- Lackland, Texas.

"Nothing is as big as the Defender's Cup," said 1st Lt. Jared Gomez, 347th Operations Support Squadron executive officer and one of the team's coaches. "This is kind of like our Olympics, our own personal World Cup that we're jumping into here, so you could imagine how excited we are."

The idea of Moody's Airmen going to the tournament started approximately one year ago, when Gomez and Tech. Sgt. Steven Haro, 347th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller arrived at Moody Air Force Base.

Together, they developed a vision for expanding the team and took over as coaches.

"Our biggest hurdle was letting people know there was a soccer club," said Haro. "Anyone has the opportunity to come out and play no matter their skill level."

After getting word out, Airmen of all ranks and different career fields came together to play. Gomez said the club now has 30 to 40 members.

The players vie for a spot on the first team selected to compete each game, although the majority of the club gets a chance to participate at some point. The coaches believe it fosters the competitive spirit that helped them reach the Defender's Cup.

"They're fighting and hungry." said Gomez. "They give their all."

Gomez also said being a part of the FTFC helps members stay well-rounded as Airman and competitors.

"They are fantastic guys who like to have fun and win," said Haro. "They are just as competitive off the field, winning awards for what they do at work."

Another obstacle the team faced was a lack in funding.

"When I joined the military in 2000, air force bases had funds for varsity teams," said Gomez. "Now, and it's understandable with budget cuts, we have raise the money ourselves."

They implemented club fees and the coaches agreed it was a substantial success. Since March, the Flying Tigers Football Club has raised $850 from dues and has planned future fundraising activities. With the money they've raised, the team went from wearing their personal athletic attire at games to having a team uniform.

Becoming a larger, more competitive team and fundraising were steps taken on the path to a higher goal, reaching the Defender's Cup Tournament in San Antonio.

"It's a great feeling to see how far the team has come ... evolving into a competitive force that's going to represent Moody Air Force Base at Defender's Cup," said Haro.

Gomez, who has competed at the Defender's cup before, reflected on significance of making it there with this team.

"It's amazing to go when the team is your family," said Gomez. "Especially since they were so excited to expand and put in hard work to get there."