Sergeant Orlee Kirklis has represented her country since she was young, first as an Israeli soccer player and now as an IDF (Zahal) commander protecting civilians from rocket fire.

Like other young Israelis, Sergeant Orlee Kirklis joined the army at the age of 18. She had a strong desire to give back to her country  – even beyond her mandatory military service. She drafted into the Air Defense Command and began the next step in her life, protecting the State of Israel.

From Defending the Goal to Defending Israel: How a Young Soccer Star Became an IDF Commander

IDF (Zahal) Sergeant Orlee Kirklis

Sgt. Kirklis is not new to discipline and the kind of teamwork necessary to be a good soldier. Starting at age 7, and until she was drafted into the IDF (Zahal), she played soccer with several Israeli leagues, competing in Europe and representing Israel abroad.

“I always wanted to be in a combat role and do something meaningful,” Sgt. Kirklis says of her army service. She began as a soldier in an Iron Dome battery and now serves as the Logistics Commander for a new group of soldiers preparing to serve in the Air Defense Command.

From Defending the Goal to Defending Israel: How a Young Soccer Star Became an IDF Commander

Archive Photo: Iron Dome intercepts rocket

As an Iron Dome soldier, Sgt. Kirklis defends Israelis living in the Southern region against Hamas rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. “It is meaningful and rewarding commanding soldiers as part of something so important as the Iron Dome,” Sgt. Kirklis said.

The Iron Dome System has been deployed in the south of Israel in order to protect Israel’s population from rockets fired from Gaza. In November 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, the system succeeded in shooting down more than 400 terrorist rockets that threatened to strike populated areas.

Sgt. Kirklis says she is proud to have represented her country from a young age, first as a star soccer player and now as an IDF (Zahal) soldier.

In her new role as a commander, Sgt. Kirklis has the opportunity to instill her pride in others. She now teaches soldiers what it means to save lives and protect the State of Israel.