Preparing for the Defender's Cup

  • Published
  • By Airman Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

It all began with a group of people wanting to play soccer after work. Service members from all branches joined in and soon a team started to form. Eventually, the team showed promise to become a very competitive team.

“It’s all about every branch coming together to be successful,” said Senior Airman Fabian Delgado, a cargo movement specialist assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Delgado is one of the team captains for a new soccer team, MacDill Football Club (FC), located at MacDill Air Force Base (AFB), Florida.

Much like MacDill, members on the team represent all branches of service and several units on base, to include the 6th Air Mobility Wing, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Although the team is still young, they’ve already proven to be a strong group of players by winning a local tournament. The tournament lasted three days, with two games per day for a total of six games.

“It was the first time the team came together to play a tournament,” said Delgado.

With morale high from winning the local tournament, the team began holding more practices, and now train at least twice a week.

“Right now chemistry isn’t quite there yet,” said Senior Airman Albert Preli, an airborne mission systems operator assigned to the 310th Airlift Squadron and team member. “But we’re a very new team and with every practice we continue to get better and better.”

These practices are in preparation for a much larger tournament, the Defender’s Cup National Military Soccer Tournament, schedule to be held September 2, 2016 at Lackland AFB, Texas.

 “This is a good opportunity to not only get MacDill’s name out there, but also for the players to be seen by coaches of military teams and possibly be chosen to compete in the Armed Forces soccer tournaments,” said Delgado.

Preli, who recently moved to MacDill, has competed in the tournament four times and is able to offer his insight to the team.

“The Defender’s Cup is a completely different experience compared to these local tournaments…every team is high speed,” Preli said. “It’s pretty brutal giving 110 percent in two to three games a day; it’s draining, but we train hard now to bring that mentality to the actual game.”

MacDill FC began as a group of players casually playing after work. Now, it has become an organized team with a drive to win. Their drive is strong enough to pay for the trip to Lackland AFB themselves.

“Since we’re not sponsored, we’ll have to pay for transportation, hotels, food and all our equipment for the Defender’s Cup,” said Preli.

But the team pushes on, determined to play hard in the national tournament and bring home the cup.

“When we won the local tournament, it caught everyone by surprise,” said Delgado. “The team was extremely tired since we were playing multiple games a day. We were out of gas, but we kept going; it was all heart. If we can take that mindset to the Defender’s Cup, who knows what will happen?”