News / Asia

Afghan Cricket Team Overcomes Challenges to Compete in T20 World Cup

Multimedia

Sean Maroney

Twelve teams from around the world are competing in this year's international tournament for one-day cricket matches, the Twenty20 World Cup.  While the presence of perennial powerhouses Australia, Pakistan and India are no surprise to fans, this year welcomes a new addition: Afghanistan.  The Afghan team faces as many challenges off the field as it does on it.

The sharp crack of a cricket bat arguably is heard more in Afghanistan than the sound of gunfire, even in a country wracked by more than three decades of war.  In fact, the national obsession with the sport is so strong that the Taliban did not outlaw it as they did kite flying.

But despite the Taliban's acceptance, Raees Ahmadzai, a batsman for the Afghan national team, tells VOA his country's ongoing violence threatens to kill the organized sport and forces him to spend most of his time during the season in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. "It's so hard, so difficult [a] life for us.  Most of the time, we are traveling to Peshawar, and sometimes it's so dangerous for us," he said.

Most of the Afghan players first learned cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan, such as this one outside Islamabad.  Young Afghan boys still gather each day to play.  Their wickets are rocks stacked on top of each other, and some play in the dirt with bare feet.

Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi says because of his country's violence and lack of proper facilities, the team spends most of its time practicing in Pakistan and host countries. "Before the tournament, we will camp for one month or 20 days, then we will practice," he said.

Officials with the Afghan Cricket Board tell VOA they rely on the international community, private donors and sponsors for funding.

About a year-and-a-half ago, they built a cricket stadium in Kabul, nestled between the city's soccer stadium, which was an infamous Taliban execution site, and a makeshift town of tents and mud huts, which exhibits an abject poverty mirroring a refugee camp.

Teenager Ismail Ibrahim was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan and still lives there.  After arriving in Kabul at the stadium, he proudly displays his fistful of certificates and says he hopes his training in Pakistan qualifies him for Afghanistan's under-19 team. "I love cricket, and I wanted to do something for my country because I come here," he said.

Ahmadzai says "cricket diplomacy" helps spread a softer image of Afghans.  He recalls last year's Asian Cricket Council T20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates where a local newspaper covered his team's overall victory. "The article...  in the newspaper [read], 'New Afghan Army.'  So that means we are doing [this] for peace, and we want a good relationship with the world, and we want to do (something) special for our country," he said.

Some cricket experts say the Afghans have a great deal of potential and a good chance of beating some of the more high-profile teams at this year's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.  

But after facing so many different obstacles, the Afghan players say just reaching the prestigious tournament is a victory.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid