VICENZA, Italy — Caserma Ederle hosted a friendly soccer match Thursday night, between two uniquely related teams; Soldiers from the Vicenza Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program and Swiss Guards who are normally tasked with the safety of the Pope and also known as “the world’s smallest army.”
For seven of the last eight years, excluding a year where COVID interrupted, the teams typically meet annually in Vatican City, however, this year they scrimmaged at Caserma Ederle on the athletic field.
Over a decade ago, Claudio Adamo, a retired local national employee with over 40 years of service with the Department of Public Works at U.S. Army Garrison Italy, began organizing the annual “Vatican Cup” with his counterpart, Fabio Bertoluzzi.
“To know each other, the different communities, the different mentalities, and join together, and the vehicle is sports,” said Adamo. “It makes people come together, so any mental barrier goes down because you enjoy together, and when you enjoy together you become friends.”
After traveling by train from Rome, the Swiss Guards had a full Itinerary. They were able to experience an American barbeque at the Ederle Chapel, a K-9 unit training event, a guest appearance on the AFN afternoon radio show, and tried American delicacies like fast food options at the food court. They also toured Del Din to see how American Soldiers live and work. The Guards also hit local Vicenza hotspots such as historic downtown, Villa la Rotunda, and Monte Berico.
Growing up in Switzerland, learning multiple languages from a young age, and holding their faith close, joining the Swiss Guard was an honor for 19-year-old Jonas Koch.
When they were given the chance to play for the Guard’s team for the league in Vatican City, they jumped on it. Little did they know that they would become friends with U.S. Soldiers and found they had even more in common than soccer.
“It’s the comradery between the guys, in all military organizations you live together, work together, have fun together, you do it all together,” said Koch.
Raul Vargas, a team captain for Boss Vicenza was happy to host the Swiss Guards after practicing for weeks for the match. Both teams came ready to play, but the Guards were ultimately defeated 3-1.
“It was a great game, it was tough,” said Vargas. “This is the first time that we beat them here in Vicenza. We are super proud to bring this trophy to our house.”
Later this year, the teams will meet again in Vatican City where the Americans will attend a mass, tour Vatican City, experience how the Guards live their daily lives, and once again, go head-to-head on their turf to battle for the ‘Vatican Cup.’
|Date Posted:||08.11.2023 11:09|
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