DVIDS – News – Community engagement: US rugby team represents NATO and Poland battle group at Sopot tournament

There is a paradox when things collide, when order evolves out of big bangs.

So, it may seem absurd to the uninitiated that friendships and camaraderie can be built from human collisions in combat – bruised muscles leading to trust, strained skeletal structures leading to understanding.

Rugby, however, has this enduring tradition of camaraderie through brutal competition. Therefore, a handful of members of 3rd Battalion “Dark Rifles”, 161st Infantry Regiment, who had played rugby on teams across the United States, knew that the sport could have an impact on the community by establishing relations with Polish communities and by developing interoperability with NATO partners. .

Thus, they entered a battalion team, the Dark Rifles Rugby Team, in the 9th Sopot International Beach Rugby Tournament and competed as one of 16 men’s teams, a tournament record, on July 31, 2021 on the main beach in Sopot, Poland, next to the Baltic Sea. Sea in the bay of Gdańsk.

“The team logistically planned this and prepared before they even arrived in the country,” said Captain Pavel Anisimov, civil affairs officer of the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion and team leader of the Civil Affairs and Operations Command. psychological aspects of the US military. “It was a well planned activity.

They trained for a month before the tournament, training in the morning during physical training hours to help new players who had never played develop fundamental skills and learn the laws of the game.

“We played against each other at the base, but this [tournament] is a challenge, a lot more competitive, a lot more intense, and it’s a lot of fun, ”said Sgt. Derek Dow, team leader for Headquarters and Headquarters (HHC), 3-161st, a Washington National Guard battalion deployed as part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) , multinational battle group Poland. NATO’s EFPs are a robust, multinational and combat-ready set of forces demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic link.

The inexperience manifested itself early in the tournament, with the Dark Rifles inflicting many unnecessary penalties on the ground and dropping matches against defending champion Posnania and two other Polish teams in a group game, then bouncing back into the consolation bracket for take 12th place.

The team impressed passersby with their big shots and physicality with the ball in hand. The team also played a draw in an impromptu exhibition match against the Sopot Old Boys, in which Sopot president Jacek Karnowski (57) represented against nearly all of the 3-161st in the twenteeth. The tournament announcer asked the Dark Rifles to “heal our old Sopot boys”, but when the kick-off came, many Sopot players were hit by heavy crashes and stuck deep in the sand. After the game, however, the two sides hugged warmly and posed shoulder to shoulder for photos that were smiling from ear to ear.

Also before the match, Anisimov and Dark Rifle leaders presented Karnowski and tournament director Jarosław Hodura from tournament organizer Hodura Foundation with commemorative medals in appreciation of their support and initiatives in the fields of sports and football. the charity.

Likewise, the 3-161st, in the early stages of its deployment, worked regularly with NATO partner nations in the Poland Battle Group on initiatives to build trust and relationships in surrounding Polish communities near the Bemowo Piskie training area. Most recently, the 3-161st spent a sporting day playing football with children at the Gmina Wydminy school, hosted a local boy scout troop, organized a military equipment tour and participated in an uprising commemoration. Warsaw 1944.

Anisimov said he was working with the battalion, providing civil affairs and community outreach assistance for events outside the base “when the US military does something awesome” like this tournament. rugby.

“An interactive physical sport like rugby fosters unity and develops a great camaraderie between the teams, and, as we face each other on the pitch, after the game, it’s always something more important than a handful of main, ”Anisimov said. “For example, there is a Venezuelan team here, and I just watched an American doctor cut one of the Venezuelan players.”

The 3-161st also forged cohesive ties with British soldiers and ruggers of the British Army Poacher Troop, Royal Anglian Regiment, who work out of their base at BPTA by training with them and joining them in the tournament.

“We realized that playing rugby with other nations would help build team spirit while also helping us improve each other,” said Spc. Daniel Jardinski, combat engineer for HHC, 3-161. “So when we go out on our training drills [with British Soldiers], we know some names, we know some people, and it helps our relationships in teamwork.

Events like the Sopot International Beach Rugby Tournament bring participants together, promoting interoperability when, for example, US Army participants operate at a multinational level with British Army participants, Anisimov said.

“It’s nice to get out of here [with our British counterparts] outside of the traditional training environment, ”said Dow. “An event like this rugby tournament builds cohesion and camaraderie. We have developed these huge bonds, and it is really nice to share this experience with everyone, as well as with the teams from different countries.

Rugby can therefore be seen as another ‘great’ community approach to developing strong relationships, but with perhaps a weird physical combat twist. With its post-match customs and traditions emphasizing sportsmanship and camaraderie, rugby is perhaps the perfect blend of friendly violence and competitive harmony leading to respect and togetherness.

Date taken: 08.09.2021
Date posted: 08.09.2021 06:44
Story ID: 402606
Place: SOPOT, PL

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