SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (July 28, 2012) Lt. j.g. Adam Cohen hands over a signed soccer ball to the captain of a local Cambodian soccer team in Sihanoukville during a community service project during Pacific Partnership 2012, 28 July. (Photo by Kristopher Radder)

SIHANOUKVILLE –Volunteers from Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) kicked off the Cambodian leg of the mission with a friendly soccer game against a local team, July 28.

During the game, players from both sides got to experience part of the other’s culture while showing a competitive edge during a Community Service Project (COMSERV).

“The best part about today was coming together with all the players,” said PP12 Team Captain Lt. j.g. Adam Cohen. “I think the Cambodian team really appreciated us coming out and putting our heart into the game. We had a lot of fun and we all went home feeling good about it.”

The Cambodian team, volunteers at a local non-governmental organization (NGO) who work with orphaned children, thought the game was a lot of fun.

Uewe Saorin, Team Captain of the Cambodian team, said every player tried their best and would like the chance to play again.

“It was great as a host-town to welcome the Mercy with a game of soccer,” he said. “It was a friendship game where both teams had a lot of fun while also building relationships. We believe in getting people together for friendships so we would really like to do this again.”

Although the game was a friendly one, both sides played competitively and put everything they had onto the field. The Cambodian NGO team came out on top 5-3.

“Every player tried their best,” said Saorin. “The best part was that each side had very similar skills.” Cohen said the game gave PP12 members a chance to be competitive again.

“I don’t think they really knew how amazing it would feel to play again in a competitive environment like this and play a game both teams were passionate about,” he said. The genesis of this game was to play a worthwhile game. I think we came out here and put our best foot forward for the mission.”

While in Cambodia, PP12 COMSERVs are scheduled to build relationships with the local population to help strengthen understanding and interoperability in case of future natural disasters.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is a U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.