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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid