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CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — A second Okinawa entry has joined the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League, giving the division six teams, club officials and league commissioner Tim Buck announced earlier this week.

The Hansen-Courtney Titans, a combined team of Marines from two camps in north central Okinawa, expect to begin play this season, head coach and team business manager Tony Bowman said Tuesday.

Buck announced the addition in an e-mail on Monday.

The Okinawa Interservice League folded after the 1989 season. This is the first time since then that the island has fielded more than one military football team. The Okinawa Giants of Kadena Air Base began competing in 1997.

Bowman, 44, a lieutenant colonel assigned to Camp Courtney, was the Giants’ defensive coordinator last season. He said he “was approached in the offseason by Marines who wanted to play but couldn’t drive from [Camps] Hansen and Schwab a couple of days a week.”

At the same time, Bowman heard that Buck had come to the island a few times trying to spark interest in a USFJ-AFL Southern Division, which would include the Giants and Ryukyu University Stingray.

The Titans currently have 48 players on its roster.

“The intent is to play this season,” he added. The 2003 campaign cranks up in late May.

There are still some hurdles, he said. “Equipping a brand new team costs about $400 per man. We’ll have to do some fund-raisers.”

Bowman and Buck hope that Okinawa’s Southern Division grows to four or five teams.

“If you have five teams, you play four of them twice, you have an eight-game season. Coupled with the two-tiered playoff, that would give you a nice 10-game season,” Bowman said.

The dawn of the Titans “excited” Buck.

“I am also hoping that we will be able to add teams from Futenma [Air Station] and Camp Schwab for this season. Having a second Okinawa team will hopefully spur even more interest in football on the many bases down there,” Buck said.

In three seasons under Buck’s stewardship, USFJ-AFL teams have encountered difficulties getting to Okinawa to play the Giants — and vice versa. The league also has entries at Misawa Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokota Air Base and Atsugi Naval Air Facility, hundreds of miles from Kadena.

With the Titans and Ryukyu in the mix, “we could be looking at both the Kadena and Hansen-Courtney teams each playing four games without having to leave Okinawa,” Buck said, adding that Yokota has committed to two trips to Okinawa, with Yokosuka and Atsugi each pledging to make an island visit.

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