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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.