Volleyball — bigger than just a game

USAFE Volleyball

Six NATO nations gathered for a little friendly competition March 25, 2014 for the Headquarters Allied Air Command Inter-Nation Sports Programme Volleyball Championships which took place in Amsterdam over the course of three days.

Twenty-three Airmen stationed around the world represented U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa making up the men’s and women’s teams.

USAFE Volleyball

Tensions build as the teams prepared for the matches ahead. The women’s team seeking to hold onto their undefeated title and the men’s team looking to prove themselves to their NATO allies.

Although volleyball games filled the days of the tournament, athletes focused on much more than the competition.

“At the end of the day it is about us making friends,” said Miguel Figeroa, USAFE-AFAFRICA men’s volleyball team outside hitter from Spangdahlem Air Base. “Making friends and good relations with other countries and just enjoy the time that we spend together.”

Some competitors even exchanged team shirts as a sign of camaraderie, mutual respect and a keepsake for returning home.

USAFE Volleyball

USAFE Volleyball

In the end, the women placed first once again, beating out their German rivals in the championship match while the men took third in the tournament.

The tournament concluded with an award banquet held to celebrate the hard work displayed throughout the competition.

The venue enabled these military members from all over the world to participate in this spirited competition aimed at reinforcing sportsmanship and building mutual respect between nations.

USAFE Volleyball

“Its way bigger than me,” said Shane Spice, USAFE-AFAFRICA men’s volleyball team middle blocker. “It’s about getting a chance to meet with the same people that you may see in a wartime environment or in a deployed location where it’s just work.

“This gives us a chance to shake hands, talk, interact and get to know them personally,” Spice added. “You may see them again, and maybe this is the venue where you met them.”

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