III MEF Band performs at exhibition soccer match between Kobe Leonessa, UCLA
AWASE, OKINAWA, Japan -- The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band stepped onto the track surrounding the soccer field with sharp uniforms and crisp drill movements, facing a stadium full of expectant fans.
The band performed at the Family Mart Dream Match, an exhibition game between two well-known women soccer teams, March 23 at the Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park in Awase, Okinawa.
The match was between the International Athletic Club Kobe Leonessa, winners of the Mobcast Cup International Women's Club Championship in 2013, and the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins, the U.S. college team that won the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Championship in 2013.
The III MEF Band traditionally plays concerts for the community at military-oriented functions. But, when Okinawa soccer club FC Ryukyu invited it to perform at the match, the band took the opportunity to perform at a new venue for a new audience.
“(The soccer game) was the first time for many of the Japanese audience to see (the band), and they were curious,” said Mari Matsumoto, a public affairs officer with FC Ryukyu. “It was fantastic, and I was impressed because we usually don’t get to see their performance at soccer games. The musicians and four color guards were professional, coordinating each and every move well, and it was fun to watch. The music was very good, too.”
For many members of the UCLA team, this was their first time traveling to Okinawa, and their first experience with the III MEF Band.
“It’s amazing getting to travel across the Pacific to Japan,” said Abigail L. Dahlkemper, a defensive player for the Bruins. “I think seeing the skills that these players bring, being able to play here, and getting to experience the culture together as a team is definitely going to help us (bond). The band performed the (U.S. and Japan) national anthems and our school song.”
Band members were excited to perform for a unique event and crowd, according to Lance Cpl. John M. Rosal, a percussionist with the band.
“Everybody gets into (the performance),” said Rosal. “It was a different dynamic for the band in that we are actually performing for a non-military audience.”
Both teams enjoyed the experience, and they appreciated the opportunity to play against each other in Okinawa, according to Dahlkemper.
“It was a really good experience playing against some of the best players in the world and one of the best club-teams in the world,” said Dahlkemper. “It was so enjoyable, and we’re honored to be here.”
The fast-paced and exciting game resulted in a 3-2 win for INAC Kobe Leonessa over their U.S. competitor.
The III MEF Band also entertained the audience, according to Matsumoto, encouraging FC Ryukyu and the band to collaborate on future events.
“They were very impressed,” said Matsumoto. “Some of them were taking pictures or watching with rapt attention. We are very glad that we requested (for the band to play at the game). We definitely want them to perform again in the future at FC Ryukyu's games.”