Offutt F.C. ready for Defenders Cup

  • Published
  • By 55th Wing Public Affairs

Offutt F.C. will once again head to San Antonio, Texas, over Labor Day weekend with hopes of capturing the Defenders Cup, an annual military soccer tournament.

The team finished third in last year’s event, so they’re looking to take that next step in 2023.

“Our goal is to not only to show all the other teams that Offutt F.C. is here to compete, but also to bring the trophy back to Offutt,” said Capt. Simon Kui, Offutt F.C. head coach and a chaplain at the Offutt Chapel.

This year’s Defenders Cup includes 34 teams from across the Department of Defense. Each team starts out in a group stage with the top two in each advancing to the knockout round.

“We have players with amazing talent that are hungry and ready to compete,” Kui said.

Offutt F.C. is comprised of more than 20 active-duty members, including an Army specialist and a Marine lance corporal, as well as a few veterans and a contractor.

“I feel happy and privileged to represent Offutt at this tournament,” Airman 1st Class Ricardo Zepeda Garcia, Offutt F.C. forward and 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airman. “It’s my first time ever traveling outside to represent a sport team, and it feels great the amount of support we’re getting from the base.”

The team competes in a local league, which they feel sets them up for success in San Antonio.

“We think it helps in finding our shape as a team and we get to know a little bit better how our teammates play in a real game,” Kui said. “The Defenders Cup is a big and competitive DoD tournament, so getting games in beforehand really helps to prepare us for what awaits.”

As they focus on 2023, the team is using their third place finish last year as motivation.

“I know we have what it takes to play a good tournament,” Zepeda Garcia said. “We have great players, a great coach and most importantly the desire to win every game. I know we can make it to the finals again this year and I know we can make it champions.”