Full-time Exec, Part-time Team USA Captain
By Hien Q. Vu, SMC Public Affairs
/ Published January 11, 2011
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Sports are akin to war because of the inherent strategy and tactics involved in attaining the ultimate objective of winning. Analogously, soccer reflects the many facets of a war: prolonged stretches of skirmishes followed by short, fierce flurries of chaos and commotion near the goal line. Sometimes the game is won by the long ball, other times under close-quarter circumstances.
So, it is a big deal when a player scored the opening goal in the match. Such a feat would force the opposing team to alter its strategy in trying to catch up, playing more aggressive offense and creating more defensive holes in the process. In the case of the Air Force-Army game in the 2010's U.S. Armed Forces soccer tournament, the Army never recovered and went on to lose 2-1 in the first round game of the Round Robin tournament.
Air Force's first game scorer in the tournament was 1st Lt. Jason Belvill, executive officer for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Development Planning Office (XR). Lieutenant Belvill went on to become one of only six Air Force members selected to the All Armed Forces Counseil International du Sport Militaire team. He was chosen captain of Team USA for the tournament held in Suriname, which is located in South America.
"It was an incredible experience representing the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Armed Forces in this prestigious athletic event," said Lieutenant Belvill. "From an athletic perspective, it was a valuable opportunity to play against teams from other nations. Each team has a unique style of football that forces us to adjust our own game, inevitably improving our skills, tactics and versatility on the filed. Militarily, nothing builds better camaraderie like sportsmanship among players."
Lieutenant Belvill's journey to the most prestigious world military event has been long in the making. A 2008 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, he started playing soccer in first grade. He often played as a defender or midfielder, but recently transitioned from a starting Academy marking back to representing the All-Air Force team as a stopper.
"I find soccer to be a game of strategy, endurance and attrition," said Lieutenant Belvill. "It's not unlike fighting battles and wars, where one has to create a plan and execute it based on one's strengths and weaknesses."
It comes as no surprise that he practices routinely to get to where he is. "I usually work out six times a week," he said. "I mix up both strength and conditioning workouts. As for practice, I touch on the ball at least three times with usually two games every week."
As a result, Lieutenant Belvill, who plays on several teams in the area, was invited to try out for the Air Force team in 2009 at Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas, and again in 2010 at Hurlburt Air Force Base, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. After that, his personal historical benchmark in soccer was made. "Scoring the opening goal against Army in the 2010 tournament was one of the highlights for me," he said. "It happened on such a big stage that propelled me to try for bigger goals."
On the horizon is this year's Military World Cup in July. "Although our team was competitive last year, we did not go as far as we would have hoped," said Lieutenant Belvill. "I really want to leave our mark on next year's competition."
A professional soccer career after his military service is not unfathomable for the young lieutenant. "It is aspiring to be in the company of talented athletes in the active-duty community because they bring out the competitiveness in me and help make me a better player."
To someone who probably knows him best, Lieutenant Belvill's devotion and dedication to the game is a hallmark of his personality. "Jason shows extreme passion and commitment in all areas of his life, and soccer is no exception," said Roger Belvill, his father.