AUSTIN (KXAN) — It was not a typical opponent for the Austin Aztex.
The Aztex hosted a friendly match Wednesday against the All-Air Force team, a group assembled in April and made up of the best soccer players within the U.S Air Force. Training at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, the team will spend a month preparing for the U.S. Armed Forces Tournament, beginning next week in San Diego.
Capt. Kirk Bingaman, a Westlake High School graduate, is among the 21 players that made the trip to Austin to face the Aztex.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for someone like me,” said Bingaman, who played soccer at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “This opportunity comes along to come in for a few weeks and act like a professional and relive the glory days.”
Bingaman pilots a C-130 and has flown combat missions in Afghanistan. But for the next few weeks, soccer will keep him grounded.
“I don’t even have to check my emails…I get to focus 100 percent on playing soccer again, so it’s a pretty awesome experience,” he said.
Bingaman and his teammates lost 4-0 to the Aztex, but the matches against professionals are only tune-ups for the impending tournament against the other military branches.
“We’re all after a common goal,” team captain Todd Skelton said. “We’re all Airmen. We have one focus: to win that armed forces tournament.”