Cannon lieutenant takes soccer to All Air Force level

Janet Taylor-Birkey

His recent experience would be a dream for many, but a couple of weeks in Florida during the January winter weather became 1st Lt. Jeremiah Kirschman’s reality.
The 27th Fighter Wing Contracting Squadron lieutenant competed in the six-day Armed Forces Soccer tournament that began Jan. 24.
As a player for the Air Force Soccer Team in Jacksonville, Florida, Lieutenant. Kirschman, said his experiences were everything he hoped for and “much more because you wake up, play soccer, you eat and you sleep and that’s it.”
Unless, that is, you get cut from the team, which happened to 15 players after just three days of practice. Everyone waited anxiously to find out who was cut from the team and who was staying. Players lined up at 8 a.m. outside the coach’s door on those fateful mornings, said the lieutenant.
“It was sad walking up there with some of my friends and they see my name up there, but their name was not up there,” said Lieutenant Kirschman, adding that some of the players who were cut made the team two years earlier.
Being cut from the team did not necessarily mean they were not at the top of their game, but instead may have reflected the level of competition that Lieutenant Kirschman said was much higher this year than in the past.
Eighty original applicants – the most to date – were sifted to 40 who were then invited to try out for the team. Those 40 were then cut to 25 players after just four days of practice.
“Nobody is a guarantee,” the lieutenant said, which only added to his concern about being chosen for the team. “I always think I’m not good enough. I make one mistake during the practice or the game and I’m thinking, ‘uh-oh, that might be it for me.’ I was definitely very scared every time [I made a mistake].”
Observing the playing styles of the different military branches, Lieutenant Kirschman said he noticed that “the Army’s playing style is very direct. They have the defenders hit the ball to the forwards and they just hope the forwards score. It’s very direct, one dimensional. Whereas, the Air Force, we’re passing around to everybody and we’re bringing it up, back, side-to-side. We’re using the whole field.”
The International Military Sports Council (also known as a CISM) has been held every two years, said Lieutenant Kirschman, adding that they are hoping to host it every year in the future.
“I was very fortunate to represent the Air Force against the Army, Navy and Marines. If anybody ever has the opportunity to attend one these tryouts, they definitely should. Even if they don’t make the team or go very far in the tryouts, it’s just such a great experience to see that level of competition and be recognized as one of the top players in that particular sport.”
The Air Force came home with the silver medal, but Lieutenant Kirschman maintains that “we truly were the best team out there. We had 26 shots against Army’s 8 shots (in the final games) and had possession almost the entire game but still lost to them, 2-1.”
For an in-depth review of the Armed Force soccer round robin, see http://www.dod.mil/armedforcessports/zsoc. html.