Visiting ports is not just about sightseeing and adventuring. It’s about building relations and helping the community. During their first international port visit, Sailors assigned to the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) not only played in a soccer match against their Royal Canadian counterparts, but strengthened a bond with an ally.
During the Halifax, Navo Scotia port visit, Ford Sailors competed against Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Sailors in a soccer match at Porteous Field, Halifax.
“I think it’s great we can both come together and play a friendly game and get competitive while everyone has fun,” said Master Sailor Andrew Sanfer, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, assigned to the RCN. “As soon as I sent out the message that Americans wanted to play, instantly I had 16 responding to me willing to play.”
It all started with an email sent out to the command by Retail Services Specialist 1st Class Giovanni Adjeli from Long Island, New York, asking if anyone was interested playing in a soccer match against the Canadians. Shortly thereafter, a full roster was assembled and the match was set to take place on Nov. 30, 2022.
“The game was very important as it was our first official game as Team Ford,” said Adjeli. “I knew once we deployed we would have an opportunity to showcase our talent against international opponents. That opportunity came with our port visit to Halifax.”
As far as the match went, Ford took the lead with an early goal only minutes into the game. The RCN retaliated soon after with four goals before the first half was over.
“After a few tactical changes, Team Ford went back to the field more motivated than ever,” said Adjeli. “The rest of the story is one which the Canadians will never forget.”
Once the whistle sounded to start the second half, Ford scored one goal after another until the score was 5-4 in Ford’s favor. The RCN Sailors matched Ford’s energy and scored two more goals to bring the score to 6-5. However, Ford managed to tie the game right before the final whistle blew.
Both teams had to resort to a penalty shoot-out to determine the final winner.
“Once again Team Ford came out triumphant and defeated Team Canada by four goals to two,” said Adjeli. “I was very happy for my players and was proud of their performance. We are Team Ford!”
Once the match was over both teams celebrated with each other and shook hands, marking the first time Ford’s soccer team competed against the RCN.
The friendly sportsmanship and competitive nature of the game represented the powerful partnership that the United States and Canada share.
“The game is not only important as it fosters comradery, but it humanizes our sisters and brothers in arms,” said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Jonathan Cox, from Desoto, Missouri, assigned to Ford’s intelligence department. “They are people putting their lives on the line with you. You get to see and hear their stories and that bridges your prospective for the fight to come. It’s not just about playing a sport, but unifying a front.”