Refurbished Gym Opens in Iraqi Neighborhood
By Army Sgt. Jason Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, July 15, 2008 Chants rang loud and clear from the bleachers as if it were a high school pep rally. But this was not a student gymnasium gearing up before a homecoming game against a crosstown rival. This was men, women and children of all ages chanting, “Iraq is free!” and celebrating the reopening of a neighborhood gym.
Iraqi children stand in formation representing their soccer, martial arts and basketball teams during a reopening ceremony at the Karkh Club Gym in Baghdad, July 13, 2008. The gym recently went through a thorough revitalization with the help of Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Thompson, Multinational Division Baghdad
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Karkh Club Gym officials worked closely with Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team to reopen the neighborhood athletic facility July 13.
“This is a great day for the children of Karkh,” Sharar Hayden, gym manager, said. “The kids in this area are always so energetic and excited to play any form of sports, and now they have a beautiful place to hang out. I’ve already seen thousands of smiles as the kids have been here celebrating with us the entire day.”
The project to refurbish the local gym began more than seven months ago and cost just nearly $300,000 to complete.
“This makes me proud,” said Army Capt. Jason Felix, a Tucson, Ariz., native, and project manager with 2nd BCT. “Everyone worked hard together to reopen this gym for the Iraqi citizens. It is a good example of what cooperation between the local officials, Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces can accomplish.
“We’ve helped to improve the security of the region,” he continued, “so that the local residents could enjoy a more peaceful community to raise their families.”
(Army Sgt. Jason Thompson serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)