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Off the boat, onto the field

By Pfc. Nikki M. Fleming | | August 18, 2006

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Although the World Cup soccer tournament has ended, Marines and sailors aboard the USS Enterprise have been experiencing international soccer first hand.

The USS Enterprise has established its own soccer team that plays against other teams, foreign and American, as one of the many activities offered during port visits. The “Big E” also provides the team with custom uniforms, although players must supply their own shin guards and cleats.

“Myself and a few of the other Marines found out about the ship’s soccer team by word of mouth from sailors onboard,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Bolanos, a maintenance administrative clerk with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. “Our first game was in Croatia and we have kept with the team since then.”

According to Cpl. Patrick Webb, a powerline Marine with VMFA-251, the aircraft carrier’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program sponsors the events and helps to get the games set up. They try to organize a game in every port.

“This is the first military team I’ve played for,”  Bolanos said. “We usually play military personnel from other ships or bases in different countries.”

During the USS Enterprise’s port visit in Singapore Aug. 3, the Marines and sailors had the chance to play against sailors from the USS Mercy, which was in port on a Humanitarian Relief deployment.

“This was my first game playing on the team, although the team has played in other port visits,” Webb said. “Unfortunately for me, I had duty in other port visits and couldn’t get out to participate.”

According to Webb, the team is at an obvious disadvantage since they don’t get many chances to practice aboard the Enterprise.

“Overall the game went well. One could tell that it was one of the first games that the team has played together and that the team was a little rusty,” Webb said. “I believe with some practice and playing more games, we’ll be unstoppable.”

Despite the team’s valiant effort, Mercy won the game in a 4-3 victory over Enterprise. Webb, who played as the team’s goalkeeper, had several saves while in net. Meanwhile Bolanos assisted Webb with a block in the first half of the game.

“I enjoyed having the chance to play even though I was rusty and hadn’t played in about two years, but I had fun,” Webb said. “That was the main thing, the team getting out there and having fun.”

According to Webb, in the last game there were only three Marines onboard that played in the game and there are others who play when they have the chance.

“It’s a great opportunity and experience to enjoy,” Bolanos said. “It’s also nice to have the chance to get out and interact with other personnel onboard. Working long days and being somewhat confined to our working areas, teams such as this allow everyone to meet new people. Also the games give us the opportunity to meet other ships from around the world.”



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