There are only a few weeks left until the 2015 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG), hosted by Fairfax County, V.A., will hold its opening ceremonies on Friday, June 26 at RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. With an estimated 12,000 law enforcement and fire service personnel from around the globe traveling to the Washington, D.C. region, many will arrive through either Washington Dulles International Airport or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Not only will these be the arrival sites of many of the World Police and Fire Games participants, the airports have eleven Public Safety officials who volunteered as representatives to compete in the games.
One of the competitors in the 2015 WPFG is Clara Irurita, an Airports Authority Firefighter at Washington Dulles International Airport. Irurita is a member of the women’s outdoor soccer team comprised of 11 female athletes from Police and Fire departments in surrounding jurisdictions. Although these first responders may have different jobs professionally, on the field they are all part of a team that seamlessly communicates and coordinates each play leading to wins and a great team spirit.
Irurita’s philosophy is that there needs to be a steady flow of information between everyone in order to achieve a given objective. She believes this applies in the sport of soccer and with her team, the U.S. Capitol Police Alliance, specifically.
“If we are not focused on the game or communicating to one another there is a greater chance that we would not have a good team dynamic and achieve any success on the field,” Irurita said.
As the Games approach, Irurita looks forward to the great team atmosphere and cohesiveness that leads to winning soccer matches. Despite being the only firefighter on a team of police officers, Clara recognizes that she’s part of a community, which shares the common goal of representing the U.S. during the World Police and Fire Games.
Serving as a firefighter for more than 8 years, Clara Irurita, 31, joined Station 302 at Dulles International Airport only recently, in 2014. Although, she is a newcomer to the Airports Authority, Irurita is not new to the field of athletic competition, especially in the soccer arena. Clara first began playing soccer as a child at a local park with kids in her neighborhood. Then, she began playing competitively at the age of 14 and continued the sport while she attended college.
After 20 years of experience on the soccer field, Clara is ready to play in the WPFG as a right forward.
“This is truly an incredible opportunity to represent the nation’s capital on an international level through a sport that I have so much passion for,” said Irurita.
For Irurita and her teammates, competing on the international soccer stage brings the added challenge of facing a high level of competition from experienced teams from around the world.
Irurita is determined to not only be prepared but be in the best shape possible; she and her U.S. Capitol Police Alliance teammates are training 6 days a week and competing in soccer matches 5 days per week. In total, the team has been practicing together for 6 months.
Irurita and her teammates have learned to balance their intense training schedule with their jobs as emergency responders, which is made easier through the support of their colleagues.
“The people I work with at the Airports Authority have been very supportive, they even take time from their busy schedules to train with me each week.” she said.
Airports Authority Fire Chief Gary Mesaris is one of her biggest supporters and will be at the Games cheering for Irurita and her team.
“Since joining the Airports Authority, Clara has always shown an impressive work ethic that makes us proud to have her as part of our team at Washington Dulles International Airport,” Mesaris said. “Clara’s strong dedication and passion for her sport makes her a great participant for the World Police and Fire Games.”
Irurita recognizes that the Games are more than just about the winning for her, and she is excited to represent the U.S. as the hosts of the games. She hopes to inspire other young women to enter the field of public safety and consider competing internationally in the Games in the future – maybe as early as the 2017 Games, set to take place in Montreal, Canada, or the 2019 Games in Sichuan, China.
Athletes traveling through Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on their way to or from the 2015 World Police and Fire Games are invited to visit special welcome booths on the baggage claim level to receive a free gift, while supplies last, and pick up information about the region.