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MPBA - Blues to host game vs U.K. Army team on May 4 - Apr 26, 2016


POSTED BY:
CRAIG FATA
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April 26, 2016

ST. LOUIS - The Chicago Blues, fresh off of winning the 2016 Midwest Professional Basketball Association championship earlier this month, will host a game against a team comprised of soldiers from Great Britain's Army Air Corps (AAC) on May 4. The game will take place at 5:00 p.m. at the Blues' home venue for the past two seasons, the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 1250 W. 119th St., Chicago.

"We were approached in early January by someone from the U.S. Army about hosting a game against a British Army team that would be coming to the Chicago area for a tour," said Craig Fata, associate commissioner and chief communications officer for the MPBA. "We jumped at the chance. We're honored they thought of us."

"Basketball is in its infancy with the British Army," said Captain Glyn Dix, Regimental Signals Officer and Basketball Officer for the 4 Regiment Army Air Corps. "[Soccer] and rugby are the primary sports within the British Army, and this is the team's first tour outside of the U.K."

The purpose of the trip is threefold, according to Capt. Dix: first, to provide a reward for current players and as incentive for future players; second, to further strengthen the relationship between the U.S. military and the British military; and, third, to play against higher-level competition.

"We have worked closely with the U.S. Army and Air Force on numerous exercises and operations," said Capt. Dix. "It is these events that help break down barriers and help with collaborative working. And although we may be out of our depth, playing a mix of civilian and military teams in Chicago does not get any better for education and training of our players. It will hopefully teach us another dimension to our game."

The AAC team will face a tall task in the Blues. On April 2, the Blues became MPBA champs by defeating the top-seeded Pontiac 66ers in the 2016 title game, 114-113.

"It's an honor for the Chicago Blues to represent the MPBA as we host the British Army team," said Rick Pryor , head coach for the Blues. "This experience is something that I, my coaching staff and my players will cherish for the rest of our lives. I look forward to an exciting fun-filled evening."

The AAC team is coached by Corporal McNeil Kansonkho, and has been around for about six years. The team consists of soldiers from across the U.K. and range in rank from Air Trooper to Captain.

"We see this as an opportunity to continue to enhance the relationship with our oldest and most enduring allies through sports, which is an important part of US military culture," said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel James S. "Scott" Rawlinson, Director, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs-Midwest.

The game is part of a nine-day tour for the AAC team. They will also play against teams from the U.S. military, and are also scheduled to participate in a shootaround with the Chicago Bulls on May 10.
  



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