Airmen Take the Field for the CSIM World Cup > Air Education and Training Command > View Article

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – More than 40 female service members, representing all branches of the Armed Forces, traveled to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, for the opportunity to be part of the 21-person team representing the United States at the 2022 International Council for Military Sports (CISM) Soccer Women’s World Cup held in Meade, Washington.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Marci Walton, an instructor pilot for the 14th Flying Training Wing and the wing’s chief of security, has been the assistant coach for the U.S. Air Force women’s soccer team. the US throughout the tournament.

“There’s a lot you can learn by playing sports,” Walton said. “[These ladies] They have learned to lead, follow and trust their teammates.”

Within the team, there are six pilots and one aircrew member, each of whom represents the USAF.

“I think being a good teammate transfers off the football field and that’s what I’ve had my whole life,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Hiddink, pilot of the C-17 Globemaster III. “I think I’ve already brought that to my squad, but even more so now. Being here with all these strong women, it’s great to see us supporting each other.”

CISM was founded on February 18, 1948 and is one of the largest multidisciplinary organizations in the world. Players from various fields and professional branches come together to achieve a common goal.

“Growing up playing soccer, I learned the value and structure of teamwork,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyele Bridel, T-6 Texan II instructor pilot. “I have brought those values ​​and skills to my squad to the best of my ability. I think being here further instills those values ​​in terms of having the best interest of others towards a common goal in terms of success.”

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The ultimate goal of CISM is to contribute to world peace by uniting armed forces through sport. The motto under which they operate is “Friendship through Sport”.

“There were some difficulties with being a pilot,” said US Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Denton, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot. “My squad was on six-month deployment rotations and I needed my squad commander’s approval in order to be released. Fortunately, my command team was very supportive. It helped that the games were in the US this year and in my current destination.”

Between deployments, home life, training, and maintaining certifications, some competitors have noted that even participating in the event has been a “challenge.”

“There’s a lot of training that we have to do,” said US Air Force Capt. Angela Karamanos, weapons systems officer for the F-15 Eagle. “I haven’t been able to play in the past because of the training line. The timing worked this year where I wasn’t in any official update.”

Student pilots must go through undergraduate pilot training before earning their aeronautical qualification. After which, they will continue training in their respective aircraft on their next duty assignment.

“I had to cover all the required coins before I left,” said Capt. Marisa Gratten, an E-3 Sentry pilot. “We have to have a certain number of flights per month and since I knew I might be out for a month, I had to cut them out.”

CISM brings together diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds, forming bonds through sports and competition.

US Air Force Capt. Jennifer Gillette, 333rd Fighter Squadron, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, has played with the team twice before, this being her third time representing Team USA.

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“The best part of the journey, this time and every time, is being a part of something so great with so many amazing women,” Gillette said. “The wrestling community is male dominated, as you read. It’s great to connect and be part of a team with so many strong, independent, and different, but equally amazing women.”

Team USA battled Belgium on July 11, earning their first win with a 10-0 victory on July 11, 2022.

“We’ve never had a group of ladies like this before,” said US Air Force Col. Derrick Weyand, head coach of women’s soccer in the US Armed Forces. “I’m excited because this team is stronger, better and faster than any team we’ve had in the past.

Team USA came up short against Cameroon with a final score of 1-2 on July 14, but has since come back against Germany with a final score of 2-1 on July 15.

To see these women represent the US Armed Forces, use the link below:

US Calendar

July 19 at 3:30 p.m. PST vs. Ireland

July 22 – TBD based on group play