GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, July 7, 2014 —
Several service members here have taken to the soccer field to boost their fitness and relieve stress. Their new coach, a fellow member of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, has the skills to help the local female soccer team, Barcelona, to the next level.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Peter Bergum, with JTF Engineering, has coached his children’s soccer teams for many years back home. In fact, he has a U.S. soccer coaching certification, called an e-license, and coaches in Iowa. When word of his experience reached a Barcelona player, he was recruited to help bring them together and unite a team that includes both experienced and inexperienced players.
“They’re great. They’re fun,” Bergum said. “It’s fun to practice and see an improvement in the couple of games we’ve had together.”
Most recently, the team has been working on foot skills and run drills to improve passing, shooting and ball-handling.
“We’re trying to get everybody a little bit better, because we have all different experience levels on the team -- those that have played for years and years, and those that have never played before getting here,” Bergum said, “so that’s kind of a fun challenge.”
Army Sgt. Rebecca Rickrode, a soldier with the 420th Military Police Company who plays forward for Barcelona, brings a lot of experience to the table. She said training with those who have never played before has been an interesting challenge, but she has seen a vast improvement in the team as a whole since Bergum has come on board as coach.
“He is a very positive coach, and he’s very helpful,” she said. “He’s encouraging, but he also teaches us a lot of good techniques and helps out people who play at all different levels.”
While the female soccer league ends next week, the women of team Barcelona will never forget the skills they learned and the feeling of camaraderie they felt during the season, and for a brief moment enjoyed a positive distraction from being away from their loved ones.
“[Playing] just brings a little bit of home back to deployments,” Rickrode said. “You can do something that’s fun and not just do PT all the time.”