New Delhi, Nov.11: Afghan boys and girls are participating in the 52nd Subrato Cup Football Tournament being held in New Delhi with the hope of promoting a better sports culture back home and with the expectation of India assisting their country’s government in building Afghanistan’s sports infrastructure and training in their war-ravaged country.
Under 17 boys and girls and Under-14 boys’ teams from Afghanistan are participating in the tournament organized by the Indian Air Force.
With their heads wrapped in scarves and bodies fully covered, the Under-17 Afghan girls’ team participated for the first time in an international event. The level of enthusiasm was high as they played against the Amity school team of New Delhi.
The boys’ team members cheered them on to register a win.
Having a women’s football team was “unthinkable” under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
“Things are now changing”, says Shazia Rehman, a 16-year-old girl from Kabul, who always dreamt of becoming a sportsperson.
The daughter of a mechanic, she was an avid cricketer before joined the football team. It turned out to be a good decision as she ranks among the best in the squad.
“Now, things are changing, but still parents hesitate to send their girls to school and participate in sports. I wish things get better and more girls would come forward to play sports in Afghanistan”, said Shazia.
A 50-member Afghan delegation that includes the football team is hoping to win the tournament.
The Under-14 Afghan boys team played three league matches and won all of them. On November 10, they played against Pondicherry, a union territory in the southern part of India and defeated them by 5-0.
Thirteen-year-old Yousuf Ayoubi from the winning Under-14 Afghan boys team said: “We need peace for better sports culture in our country. Peace leads to development. We have reached to this stage because things are slowly improving”.
The under-17 boys team from Afghanistan, who have earlier played international tournaments, want India to develop Afghanistan’s sports infrastructure and provide training to those involved with sports.
Seventeen-year-old Kawash Haidiry, who is playing in Under 17 team, said: “India is our neighbouring country and we expect that it help us in building infrastructure for sports and provide training to our sportspersons and coaches”.
Since bilateral relations between Afghanistan and India have traditionally strong and friendly, the people of Afghanistan have high hopes from India since after the withdrawal of international troops by 2014.
India shares the collective commitment of the international community to the unity, integrity and prosperity of Afghanistan. (ANI)