‘Globetrotting’ benefits CFB Esquimalt athletes

A friendly match between i2i Albion and Canadian Armed Forces (wearing black) at Haxby Road on Dec. 12 in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Photo: Matthew Appleby

A friendly match between i2i Albion and Canadian Armed Forces (wearing black) at Haxby Road on Dec. 12 in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Photo: Matthew Appleby

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer 
Athletes from CFB Esquimalt revelled in the recent opportunity to travel the globe and represent Canada internationally.

Before the holiday break, members of Canada’s men’s CISM (Conseil International du Sport Militaire) soccer team went to Ireland and the United Kingdom for training and a series of matches against other nation’s military teams. The CISM men’s basketball team also journeyed across the big pond to Holland and Belgium for a training camp and international tournament.

Canada CISM soccer coach Lieutenant (Navy) Demetris Mousouliotis, Executive Officer of Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) (FDU(P)), says the trip provided an opportunity to grow relations with international counterparts through sport. He typically volunteers as an assistant coach for CISM but took over as head coach for their game abroad. 

Before the team hit the field in Dublin, Lt(N) Mousouliotis reminded the players of brotherly duty.

“No matter what happens on the pitch, we are always brothers-in-arms off it.” The pep talk worked.

After the last ball was kicked in Yorkshire, Lt(N) Mousouliotis concluded that the team had improved its ability to compete against formidable opponents.

Getting their kicks

Three players from CFB Esquimalt joined Lt(N) Mousouliotis for the 20-player training camps and matches in Dublin and Richmond, U.K., Dec. 2-14.

Victoria-based players who made the selection for the CISM soccer camps included Master-Corporal and central midfielder Max Hache, central defender Sailor Third Class Owen Sewell of HMCS Winnipeg and Sailor First Class Nathaniel Hartley, a striker with HMCS Regina.

Canada lost both matches and went goalless in the Dublin Triangular Tournament. They fell 2-0 to the hosts on Dec. 4 and were then blanked 1-0 against the United States in their final match on Dec. 6.

Canada is traditionally an underdog in the CISM soccer world, notes Lt(N) Mousouliotis. He said that Canada routinely faces military teams with much deeper talent pools, so having some measured success was an invaluable confidence booster. 
Canada recorded a 2-1 victory over the i2i Football Academy on Dec. 12 and then held the UK Army Northern Selects to a 3-3 tie on Dec. 14. 

Hoop Dreams

Meanwhile, on the basketball court, Acting Sub-Lieutenant (A/SLt) Brent Martindale of HMCS Winnipeg also expressed appreciation for this international experience. 

“Our guys showed grit and battled adversity on the court,” he said. “We were also very lucky to have an opportunity to represent Canada on the international stage, one that not many others have.”

A/SLt Martindale plays center for the Tritons basketball team and was particularly proud of how he and his CISM teammates performed under pressure against international opposition.

Canada’s men’s and women’s basketball teams held training camps in the Netherlands before their international tournament in Belgium from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

Guards Lt(N) Connor Duke, Logistics Officer of HMCS Winnipeg, and Lt(N) Owen Murphy, Marine Systems Engineering Officer on HMCS Ottawa, also participated in the games and camp with A/SLt Martindale.

The men’s team was hosted by Nieuwe Haven Naval Base, where they held a training camp and played exhibition games against the Dutch Navy team. Then, it was off to Mons, Belgium, to compete in an international basketball tournament hosted by NATO’s SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe).

Canada finished 5th among nine teams at the 53rd annual SHAPE International Basketball Tournament (IBT). Our CISM men’s team lost to the United States and France but scored morale-boosting victories over Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Like our CISM soccer team facing international opposition, our basketball players also faced much deeper and experienced player pools.

Canada’s game with France on Nov. 30 was one A/SLt Martindale was particularly proud of despite the result on the scoreboard.

“We came out hard and strong against an opponent who was a more talented team,” said A/SLt Martindale. “We ultimately came up short in the final moments, but I find more value in closely contested games than one-sided blowouts.”

He says the results put the team in a more confident frame of mind heading into their Canada West Regional Basketball that tips off Feb. 12 in Moose Jaw, Sask.

“I think far too often Canada is regarded strictly as a hockey nation, and by achieving a winning record on the basketball court, it bodes well for our program and the game’s growth in general as we go forward,” concluded A/SLt Martindale.

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