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Dental specialist one of 19 members on All-Army soccer team

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By STAFF SGT. TERESA CLEVELAND

Christian Arias Fernandez, a Dental Activity dental specialist assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, returned from the All-Army team soccer camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, a tryout camp for Soldiers from across the nation, as one of 19 members of the All-Army team.

Each year, more than 500 U.S. Army Soldiers apply for the All-Army Soccer Team. Only 32 of those applicants are chosen to attend the three-week All-Army team camp in the hopes of becoming one of the final 19 Soldiers to make the team.

“I grew up in Ecuador where soccer was very popular, so I’ve been playing my whole life and I was very excited when my leadership told me about All-Army teams,” said Arias Fernandez. “It’s highly competitive and everyone I met on the team was very fit, muscular and fast.”

Most applicants have prior experience on higher level teams, such as pro or semiprofessional leagues, Armed Forces teams or Division I, II or III teams.

“I learned so much, from both the officers and enlisted members on the team because they are all so talented,” said Arias Fernandez. “I learned that, in a sport with so much diversity, what matters most is what is in your heart.”

During the season, the team traveled through Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida playing against Division II colleges and universities. Players also currently volunteer in the local community conduct soccer clinics for children.

“This team taught me how to be a better listener and how to communicate more effectively,” said Arias Fernandez. “In team sports, you’re all fighting for one goal—to win—and we can accomplish that if we communicate and work together.”

Now back with his home unit at McDonald Army Health Center dental clinic, Arias continues to sharpen his soccer skills through unit physical training, morale events and as the JBLE soccer team captain.

“It’s a great honor to be the team captain this year—It’s my passion and I’m so happy I can pursue it while serving in the Army,” said Arias Fernandez.

Arias’ next goal is to make the Armed Forces Soccer Team in 2018, which holds tryouts every two years and travels worldwide, competing against other countries.

For more information on All-Army sports, visit www.armymwr.com or Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAllArmySports. n