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A win to last a lifetime: Liberty Airman scores medal on USAF soccer team

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician wears the Armed Forces Men’s soccer championship medal, June 23, 2016 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Air Force men’s soccer team played the U.S. Navy for the championship, May 19, 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia, winning 3-2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician wears the Armed Forces Men’s soccer championship medal, June 23, 2016 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Air Force men’s soccer team played the U.S. Navy for the championship, May 19, 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia, winning 3-2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician, competes in a soccer match against the U.S. Marine Corps team during the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship tournament at Fort Benning, Georgia. Over the course of the week-long tournament, the U.S. Air Force teamed played teams from the other branches, ultimately beating the U.S. Navy 3-2 for the championship title. (Courtesy photo)

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician, competes in a soccer match against the U.S. Marine Corps team during the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship tournament at Fort Benning, Georgia. Over the course of the week-long tournament, the U.S. Air Force teamed played teams from the other branches, ultimately beating the U.S. Navy 3-2 for the championship title. (Courtesy photo)

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician, competes in a soccer match against the U.S. Marine Corps team during the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship tournament at Fort Benning, Georgia. Airmen from across the Air Force tried out for the U.S. Air Force soccer team. Bettes represented Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, playing defense for the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician, competes in a soccer match against the U.S. Marine Corps team during the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship tournament at Fort Benning, Georgia. Airmen from across the Air Force tried out for the U.S. Air Force soccer team. Bettes represented Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, playing defense for the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

Members of the Air Force men’s soccer team pose with their gold medals after winning the 2016 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia., May 13, 2016. During the championship match, the Air Force beat the U.S. Navy Men’s team 3-2, after competing in the week-long tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Members of the Air Force men’s soccer team pose with their gold medals after winning the 2016 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia., May 13, 2016. During the championship match, the Air Force beat the U.S. Navy Men’s team 3-2, after competing in the week-long tournament. (Courtesy photo)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- After sorting through hundreds of applications, the U.S. Air Force soccer team selected 36 Airmen from across the entire Air Force to report to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas, to try out for the USAF men’s soccer team.

Week by week, the group was narrowed down. After the final cut, Airman 1st Class Timothy Bettes, 48th Force Support Squadron career development technician, found himself a new member of the USAF team. The team participated in three-a-day practices beginning at 4 o’clock in the morning.

“I enjoyed the competition of the tryouts,” Bettes said. “I gave it all I had each and every day. Since I began playing soccer, my goal has been to reach the highest level I could, making the Air Force men’s soccer team, I reached my goal.”

Bettes began playing soccer at the age of four years-old. He credits his brother, Nickolas, with getting him into the game.

“I was the typical younger sibling. Everything my brother did, I had to do as well,” Bettes said. “I wanted to be just like him. I’ve looked up to him my whole life.”

After completing their regular season games, the team traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia, to compete in a week-long tournament for the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championships. On May 13, 2016, the Air Force played against the U.S. Navy team, 3-2 to win the championship game.

“We hold this truly special bond,” Bettes said. “I was a part of a team, a brotherhood, we trained harder than any of the other branches and it showed, and together we reached our goal and brought home the gold.”

Bettes said he will remember this experience for the rest of his life. The bond and camaraderie that he had with his teammates will last him a lifetime.