39th JFCBS International Small-Pitch Soccer Tournament

„It is just a soccer ball…“

With those words, the German Senior Representative and Head of the German Delegation, Netherlands, Colonel Günter Thiermann, prefaced his opening speech at the 39th International Allied Joint Force Command Small-Pitch Soccer Tournament in Brunssum. Colonel Thiermann emphasized the fascination that emanates from the playing device and attracts crowds. He should be right: 55 participating teams and over 500 players from more than 20 nations played for the coveted trophies of what the Bundeswehr sports magazine calls “NATO's largest military tournament”. After exciting games, which were played in four different competitions, both well-known and first-time participants took the trophies back home in the end. A colourful entertainment program completed the event.


As always, the event started with the Delegations’ Cup. A total of 17 teams competed in two groups, with only three ‘purebred’ teams from the nations deployed at Brunssum participating: the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. In the preliminary round, the group winners were determined by round robin play. In Group 1, it was quite obvious that it would be a close race right from the start. Since the three first-ranked teams had 21 points each in their account, the goal difference had to decide which teams would be qualified for the semi-finals. With a difference of 17 goals, the team from Geilenkirchen Airbase took first place, followed by SHAPE with a goal difference of 15-4. The Brunssum / Landgraaf police had to settle with the third place as their goal difference was plus 6.
Despite being supported by Ingo Anderbrügge, who had won the UEFA Cup with FC Schalke 04 in 1997 and had scored in the final against Milano, the German team did not make the leap into the semi-finals, although the “royal blue legend” scored twice with his legendary "left hammer". Thanks again to Ingo! However, he should not be the only “Schalker Knappe” ennobling this tournament...

In the second Group, the race for the first two places was also exciting. In the end, last year's winners, the 2 German Medical Regiment "Westerwald", with 18 points, and the Multinational Corps North-East team from Szczecin, who beat Italy by 7-0 (which was also the highest result of the tournament), managed to qualify for the last four to go.
In the semi-finals, the "SHAPEians" celebrated a 1-0 win against the medics, and the kickers of the Multinational Corps Northeast won by 3-1 against Eindhoven Airbase.
Thus, from a Brunssum point of view, the final was a very interesting constellation: a team from the superior headquarters playing a team from the subordinate level.
After a balanced initial phase, Szczecin could gain the upper hand with increasing progress to finally win by 3-1 and, thus, the title. What was certainly decisive for the tournament victory was the performance of Karol Tkaczuk, who also earned the trophy of the best scorer with altogether 15 scores. The long journey from Szczecin had definitely been worthwhile. Serdeczne gratulacje, see you in 2020! In the small final, the Eindhoven Airbase team prevailed on penalties against the Westerwald Kickers (5-4). The Fairness Cup went to the Linnich Castlegate Wizards.

On the same day, the Ladies’ Cup took place with eight teams going for the Cup this year. Fortuna 54 Sittard, first-time participants with two teams, was successful with both of these teams: first place in Group 1 with four wins, a seven-point lead and an amazing 21-0 goal difference as well as second place in Group 2, hence also playing in the semi-finals with the second team, which had also remained with a clean sheet. Just as expected, the Brunnsum Allstars ended up as the number one in their group despite start-up difficulties, and FFC NATO 1, a syndicate of Brunssum and Brussels staff, also obtained one of the tickets for the round of the last four. 

Clear conditions then in the two semi-finals: Fortuna 54 (1) succeeded while still keeping a clean sheet with a 5-0 against the sister team; Aachen, meanwhile in well-known form, also prevailed clearly by 3-0 against the NATO ladies. In the match for third place, Fortuna 54 (2), back to old strength, defeated the NATO ball artists with a safe 2-0. In a contested but fair final, it looked like a downfall of the favourite for quite a long time. The Allstars had to deal with the unfamiliar situation of lagging behind but were then able to turn the game and win the trophy for a fourth consecutive time after a 2-1 victory. Nevertheless, the team should not rest on its laurels for too long; the young ladies from our neighbouring town Sittard have had a great success ranking second and third – and they will be back in 2020!
The best female scorer was Jolyn Sneyders from Fortuna Sittard (1), the Fair-Play Cup was handed over to the women from "oranje" lions. 

Following the charity character of this event, the organizers were happy to present three donations. Like in previous years, the first donation was presented to Basissport Limburg, an organization that enables people with disabilities to participate in sports activities. The second donation was given to a member of the JFCBS Headquarters: one year ago, this staff member had learned about his son being diagnosed with a rare genetic disease with only a hundred cases listed worldwide. The third donation went to a German organization, the Bundeswehrsozialwerk, which takes care of members of the German Armed Forces and their families in need of support. We all know that those donations were very small ones; but at the same time, we hope that the money will be beneficial for each of the recipients in order to continue with their efforts.

After the symbolic cheques were presented by Colonel Thiermann, all participants shared a moment of silence for reflection.

Afterwards, the welcome party started. DJ Carsten was hereby honoured for his 15-year commitment and everybody celebrated him extensively. After a brief warm-up, Carsten handed over the microphone to the live act of the tournament, Susal. The self-proclaimed “party witch” lived up to her name, turned the shelter into a madhouse, and created an extraordinary atmosphere and mood: after three minutes, everybody was dancing both on the floor and on the tables. The celebration lasted until the early morning hours.

The following day at 9:00 a.m., however, (almost) everyone was fit again. Colonel Günter Thiermann opened the Youngsters` and the Oldies` Cup.


Concurrency of events: Here, too, both a well-known and a first-time winner were standing in the confetti shower. After the Youngsters’ Cup preliminary round games, the 6th company of 467 Logistics Battalion from Volkach (Bavaria), the mixed team of the Bundeswehr University & Regional Territorial Command from Hamburg,
2 Medical Regiment and the Demagogos made it to the semi-finals.

In two semi-finals rich in variety and quick combinations with plenty of chances to score, the “Loggis from Lower Franconia” first defeated the Demagogos 2-0. Then, with cult player Roel Brouwers (Borussia Mönchengladbach) watching the match, the team from the Hanseatic city beat the Westerwald Kickers by 2-1. After this, in the small final, the medics secured the third place with a 2-0 and, once again, proved that the Westerwald has great kickers. In the scorching final, an exciting game going back and forth, the logisticians defeated the team from the Hanseatic city 4-2 – also thanks to the Youngsters’ Cup’s top scorer, Alexander Bambach (8 goals). The Fair-Play Cup was presented to the team from Geilenkirchen.
In the Oldies' Cup, where also a total of 18 teams competed in two groups, the team from Daun and 51 Tactical Air Force Squadron "Immelmann" were able to qualify for the semi-finals as the two groups’ clear number ones. The teams from 1 German-Netherlands Corps and the Land Systems Technology Training Centre,
Aachen, who once again supported us materially in an outstanding way (Thank you!), completed the round of the last four.
The two highly exciting semi-finals were both decided by a one-goal lead. The “Immelmen” prevailed 2-1 against the Corps; the kickers from Daun won their game by 1-0 against Aachen. After the training centre had won the small final clearly by 4-1, the team from Daun could successfully defend last year’s title after a 3-0 over the German-Netherlands Corps. Stephan Rüttgers was the best scorer and the Fair-Play Cup went to the Erfurt Team 383.

Between the two finals of the Youngsters` and Oldies` Cup, another highlight of the tournament took place. A celebrity team composed of former Dutch Eredivisie and German Bundesliga players played a selection of tournament participants from the two Friday competitions. On the side of the celebrity team, the organizer was able to present famous players like Henri Heeren, “Mister Roda” Geradus "Ger" Senden, Sascha Dum, Marco van Hoogdalem and “Mister Bicycle Kick” Klaus Fischer.

Thanks to the generous support of Masita (“sportswear for winners”), who also donated numerous high-quality football items for the raffle, the team was able to play in the colours of NATO to mark the 70th anniversary of the Alliance.

The tournament selection started in line with the motto of the German National Anti-Doping Agency "Give everything, take nothing"; the agency had donated the shirts for the tournament selection and they were also present with an information booth on both days of the tournament.

FIFA referee legend Walter Eschweiler, who gave us excellent support once again this year and who was consequently granted the honorary membership of the German National Team (GNT), led the match confidently and in his inimitable way, even with a few special treats for the spectators. In a varied encounter with many goal-scoring opportunities, the celebrity team was able to prevail with 4-2. Afterwards, all players were available for photos and discussions, which was a very nice gesture.

In the last match of the tournament, our host municipality met the NATO Headquarters. In a very fair and thrilling game rich in highlights, the lady (Alyscia Cabrera) and the men of the headquarters were able to make people forget last year’s 8-2 disgrace with a tight but ultimately deserved 1-0 victory. Hereby, the trainer, Timo Wiener, had chosen the right keys to success with a generally defensive behaviour supposed to generate goal-scoring opportunities by lightning attacks, especially from the outside, by Andrew Grosby and Emilio Moreno. Perfect stability in the defence was guaranteed by the excellent keeper, Sascha Waldmann, who drove the opposing strikers to desperation with incredible saves, and by the team captain and director of the match, Dirk Kuzella, who pulled the strings in the midfield and also knew how to put the fast strikers in the limelight by smart vertical passes. The tight victory could be claimed, in the end, thanks to hard-running Holger Pahl and Stefan Peil working tirelessly as well as to cold-blooded Joel Classen, who completed a fluent attack with a hard and perfectly-placed low shot in the far corner, hence striking the acclaimed winning goal. Overall, it is thus 2-2. Both teams are now looking forward to next year with excitement.

All in all, the organizers drew a positive balance: Good weather, exciting matches, well-deserved winners, happy celebrities and three donations underline the success of this year’s event.


The dates for next year’s 40th International Small-Pitch Soccer Tournament are already identified and fixed. The Delegations’ and Ladies’ Cup will be played on 20 August followed by the tournaments for Oldies and Youngsters on 21 August. On the occasion of this very special anniversary, there might as well be some special features along with a colourful supporting programme. Just wait and see…


Participation in the tournament is open to all interested teams.


Questions and comments are to be addressed to OF4 Markus Homberg, +31 (0) 45-526 2460, or markus.homberg@jfcbs.nato.int.


Further information can be found at www.gnt-brunssum.de, where the tournament pictures have been uploaded as well.

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