A day before U.S. and England’s national teams square off in the World Cup Saturday, airmen at RAF Mildenhall, England, will challenge a local Mildenhall football club to a match.
What they are calling a “World Cup kickoff match,” Mildenhall’s base team will play Mildenhall Town FC at 6 p.m. on June 11. The teams will play only two 15-minute halves, which sounds more like a dog-and-pony-show than an actual match. A standard half lasts 45 minutes, but organizers have allowed for interviews and photo opportunities with the teams an hour before the game.
Tech Sgt. Kevin Wallace, one of the organizers, said he knew the game had to end before the first game of the World Cup scheduled that same night if he wanted anyone to attend.
Mildenhall doesn’t have an official base team, instead they formed an All-Star team amongst the squadron teams on base. Each coach got together and selected the best American players. Plenty of Brits also play on the squadron teams, but Wallace said they wanted to pick only American players in the spirit of U.S. vs. England.
Soccer is obviously England’s game of choice. In fact, most people refer to it as religion across the pond. As England’s first match against the Yanks approaches, Wallace compared the atmosphere in the country to the Super Bowl — but bigger.
“It’s ridiculous. Everywhere you go. Any road you drive down the cities and rural areas have world cup signs. Every third car you pass has English flags draping the cars. When you are here it’s the pulse. It’s the same feeling as a Super Bowl, but for the whole country,” Wallace said.