Reagan Sailors Use Basketball to Build Relations Between Different Cultures


Story Number: NNS060613-09Release Date: 6/13/2006 4:09:00 PM
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By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) Marc Rockwell-Pate, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) pulled into Port Kelang, Malaysia, and played basketball June 3 for its first port visit since departing the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

After months of performing operations in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations, Ronald Reagan Sailors had the opportunity to rest, relax and regroup. Some Sailors shopped, while others went on tours. One team of Sailors, however, chose to interact with the locals in a different way - basketball.

"Everyone involved really enjoyed the game," said Lt. j.g. Melissa Flores of the nuclear-powered carrier's reactor department. "The Malaysians were very hospitable, and the game was a really good match between two really good teams."

Since departing San Diego Jan. 4, Ronald Reagan's basketball team, the 76ers, has played a total of six games in four different countries: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). One Ronald Reagan Sailor said playing in all four countries has really opened his eyes.

"It really made me feel good to get to play in all those different countries," said Airman Tyrone Paige, a Killeen, Texas, native. "It was good to see all the basketball talent around the world."

Paige, the 76ers' team captain, added that playing basketball in other countries was about more than just having a "good game."

"I think that you actually meet more people from the countries we visit playing basketball than you would going on liberty," said Paige. "Playing ball gives the team an opportunity to interact with people from different countries, and that's not something that happens very often."

While operating in the Persian Gulf, the ship visited the city of Dubai, UAE, three times and the team played a total of four games. According to the 76ers' head coach, the team really started to bond with players from Dubai during the ship's visits.

"I think that playing in all the different countries gave the team a chance to broaden their horizons," said Cmdr. George Linville, the ship's surgeon. "Competition between two different cultures had a big, positive effect on each countries' relationship with the Navy, especially in Dubai. By playing there four times, each team got a chance to know one another very well. There were definitely bonds that formed between players on the two teams."

Besides bonding with different players around the world, Linville hopes the basketball games left positive impressions with people outside the court.

"I think the games allowed the different countries to see not only Ronald Reagan Sailors, but also the Navy in a different light," said Linville. "We are real people who do real things like playing basketball.

Commissioned in 2003, Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and is currently under way on her maiden deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations.

Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.

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