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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2023

Calling all athletes: DAF sports opportunities are waiting for you

By Debbie Aragon Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

Calling all Airmen and Guardians to represent their service, face the best athletic competition in the U.S. Armed Forces, make connections, build resiliency and serve as an example for others. 

Those are some of the benefits of participating in the Department of the Air Force Sports Program, managed by the Air Force Services Center.  

“DAF sports are important to resiliency because Armed Forces events support the ‘Fit to Fight’ ethos of DAF,” said Tech. Sgt. Dante Tillman, AFSVC noncommissioned officer in charge of DAF Sports. “These events empower Airmen and Guardians to maintain physical fitness and create team dynamics. The collaboration of members from separate installations and the opportunity to lead is foundational in building camaraderie, esprit de corps and morale in athletes and spectators alike.”  

With about 2,500 military athletes taking part each year, the DAF Sports Program involves sporting competitions above the intramural level found at installations. It includes sports teams or individual athletes competing against their sister services during Armed Forces tournaments or events. Individual players can also be selected for a U.S. Armed Forces team that competes in international competitions.  

There are 21 Armed Forces Championships as well as nine international allied championships on the schedule for 2024. 

In addition to a Conseil International du Sport Militaire, or CISM events, there are also Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or SHAPE, and Allied Air Component Command events. AIRCOM competitions are open primarily to U.S. Air Forces in Europe-based athletes as they’re focused on strengthening partnership with NATO allies. CISM and SHAPE events are open to all Airmen and Guardians.   

“Competing with DAF Sports makes our Airmen and Guardians more courageous, confident, disciplined and driven,” said Lt. Col. Jeremiah Kirschman, 92nd Mission Support Group deputy commander at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, and former DAF athlete and coach. His sporting achievements include being a four-time, All-Air Force soccer player, playing on 2013’s CISM Team USA, coaching at various levels and directing the 2022 CISM Women’s World Cup.  

“DAF athletes learn how to build teams, become better wingmen who truly care about others in their unit and become better mentors to military members who might not be as motivated as they are,” Kirschman said. “They’re fantastic role models to our Airmen and Guardians.” 

Lt. Col. Saleem Razvi, staff judge advocate for the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, is also officer in charge, assistant coach and team member on the Air Force Men’s Rugby team.  

“There is no other experience like competing in a high-level tournament every year that hosts 24 countries, with 6,000 attendees and broadcasted to thousands more,” Razvi said. “Rugby Town 7s consistently has Olympic athletes and international stars playing in the tournament.” 

For the major, testing yourself in a contact sport at an elevated level, in addition to the other armed services, is the next step in service.  

“Putting on the Air Force jersey to represent is like putting on your uniform for the first time. It’s a constant recruitment and retention tool that intramural sports cannot rival. We’re also connecting with international partners to share our love of rugby and service,” he said. 

Airmen and Guardians can look forward to 2024 DAF competitions beginning Feb. 19-28 with men’s and women’s wrestling trial camps at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   

The window to try out or compete for a sports team typically begins 45 days prior to training camp or, in the case of individual sports, official DAF coaching.   

Mark your calendars 

While some events are still being finalized and details are subject to change, here are DAF sports and their application windows:   

Golf, now through Jan. 15 

Wrestling, now through Jan. 15 

Men’s soccer, Jan. 1-Feb. 15 

Bowling, Feb. 1-March 15 

Men’s and women’s Triathlon, March 1-April 15 

Rugby, dates being finalized for both men’s and women’s teams 

Men’s and women’s Softball, May 15-June 30 

Basketball, June 15-July 30 

Volleyball, June 15-July 30 

Marathon, July 1-Aug. 15 

Aurora Challenge, Aug. 15-Sept. 30 

Cross Country, closed out for 2024 but look for more information in the fall 

“If you’d like to feel like a professional athlete and compete with the best players in the Air and Space Forces, submit an application and come see if you can play at the highest levels in the military,” said Chief Master Sgt. Learie Gaitan, AFSVC chief enlisted manager. 

Airmen and Guardians interested in competing in a sport in the DAF Sports Program can find more information and submit an application at Upcoming opportunities are also advertised at installation fitness facilities.