HomeNewsArticle Display

U.S. takes inaugural Sheppard World Cup in penalty kicks

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

Sheppard Airmen in Training and Royal Saudi Air Force cadets pose for a picture before the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. The American team won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

Col. Kirk Peterson, left, 82nd Training Wing vice commander, and Royal Saudi Air Force Col. Majed Ammar Alsofyani represent their respective countries and teams during the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. Sheppard Airmen in Training faced off against Royal Saudi Air Force cadets in the friendly competition. The U.S. won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after the game ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

Players battle for a ball during the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. hile they were competitors on this day, many of the U.S. and Royal Saudi Air Force students train along side one another in a variety of career fields. The Airmen in Training team won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

Royal Saudi Air Force cadets cheer following a goal by one of their countrymen during the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. RSAF cadets faced off against Airmen in Training from the United States in the friendly competition. The U.S. won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after the game ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

The goalie for the Royal Saudi Air Force soccer team just misses a penalty kick block at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. Airmen in Training from the 82nd Training Wing and RSAF students faced off in the first Sheppard World Cup for friendly competition and camaraderie. The soccer match was put together by the International Military Student Office, and the goal is to expand the event next year to include more intrnational partners. The U.S. won the initial on penalty kicks, 3-2. (U.S. Air Force photos by John Ingle

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

Air Force Airmen in Training cheer following a goal by one of their fellow Airmen during the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. AiT faced off against Royal Saudi Air Force cadets in the friendly competition. The U.S. won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after the game ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

An Air Force Airman in Training takes to the air for a header during a soccer game between AiT and Royal Saudi Air Force Cadets in the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. The Airmen in Training team won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

A Royal Saudi Air Force player takes to the air for a header during a soccer game between RSAF cadets and Airmen in Training in the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. The Airmen in Training team won on penalty kicks, 3-2, after regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge

The Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge trophy awaits to be presented to the inaugural champion at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 10, 2021. The first match between United States Airmen in Training and Royal Saudi Air Force cadets ended in a 3-3 tie after regulation. The U.S. won the match on penalty kicks, 3-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – When it comes to international partnerships, Sheppard AFB is no stranger to the concept.

Between the 82nd Training Wing and 80th Flying Training Wing, the variety of different service uniforms or foreign languages being spoken on any given day can be seen or heard around the installation.

Recently, in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie, the International Military Student Office hosted the inaugural Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge on Nov. 10, 2021.

“We want to make sure that we continue to build on partnerships with our internationals,” said Ralf Taylor, IMSO chief. “A lot of people know of the international program here known as ENJJPT, but our international program actually is more vast on the 82nd side than it is on the 80th.”

After more than three decades of hosting partnership countries at Sheppard AFB, Taylor said he wanted to come up with a new way to facilitate friendships. The idea for the game evolved when he and Royal Saudi Air Force liaison officer Col. Majed Ammar Alsofyani were discussing ways to get the Air Force Airmen in Training and the RSAF cadets to mingle more.

“The mantra at IMSO is ‘building partnerships today for a better tomorrow,’” Taylor said. “With that in mind, how best to do that than with a soccer match? It’s something they’re both familiar with. This is the start of something hopefully big.”

He said with the Sheppard AFB 80th Anniversary celebration happening, they decided to incorporate it with the day’s events. From there, the idea grew from a small scrimmage to a large match up, which was attended by many of the students and permanent personnel here.

Taylor said this soccer match is what leadership here hopes to develop into a larger and more internationally diverse tournament that will last for years to come with both training wings in attendance.

 “We have over 400 international students from 40 different partner counties who attend school here at the 82nd Training Wing, and 14 countries represented with our NATO partners at the 80th Flying Training Wing, hosting about 180 students per year,” Taylor said. “Next year, we hope to get both wings involved with more international teams and many games played over a two-day period. We’ll finish it off with a championship final match.”

This year’s first match between the Air Force AITs and RSAF students was a close minute-by-minute clincher with the score tied, 3-3, at the end of regulation. The teams moved on to penalty kicks to determine the winner.

After several attempts were made by both teams fueling the competition, the AiT team pulled off the victory, 3-2.

“There were some great players on the field today,” said Airman Taylor Bonino, an aerospace ground equipment student with the 361st Training Squadron and who played the position of forward for the AiT team. “Whether we’re at the schoolhouse or on the soccer field, it’s been a pleasure playing next to each other, but it’s always nice to have a little competition. We had a lot of fun out here today and I hope this continues on for many, many years after us.”

Brig. Gen. Lyle K. Drew, 82nd TRW commander, presented the Sheppard World Cup Soccer Challenge trophy at the end of the game. Also in attendance was 13th Congressional District Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas).