Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 12:44:43 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

No sand, no problem: Beach football in landlocked Afghanistan

By
13th-Sep-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

AFP, Kabul :
At a makeshift beach in landlocked Afghanistan, children as young as eight, wearing baggy Real Madrid and Barcelona shirts with "Ronaldo" and "Messi" printed on the back, joyfully kick and chase the ball.
Kabul's Ghazi stadium was the scene of gruesome executions under Taliban rule but today it is where Afghan youths, the majority of whom have never seen the sea, dream of representing their country at beach football.
"I had no idea about beach football before I joined this programme. I have never been to a beach," 14-year-old Mudasir Yousufzai tells AFP, head over heels for his newfound passion.
"We have a lot of problems. We play on dust and rocks, our goals have no net, but because I am in love with it I still like to play," he adds, smiling.
Yousufzai is one of dozens of youngsters taking part in a rapidly growing scheme that was set up six months ago to help find the brightest beach football talent in war-torn Afghanistan.
The brains behind the project is Hazratgul Baran, who plays for Afghanistan's surprisingly respectable national beach football team -- ranked 10 in Asia and 52 in the world, despite the lack of facilities and sand.
"When I first started this programme people wondered what I was doing. They would say, 'How can you prepare people to play beach football when they have no idea what a beach looks like?'," the 28-year-old tells AFP.
But Baran has had no problems attracting youngsters to the programme. Football is hugely popular in Afghanistan with kids playing on dirt roads, in markets and in schools -- wherever the security situation allows.
Interest in beach football in particular has boomed since the national team played their first international match, against Qatar, in 2013 -- a game they won against the odds.
In the beginning they were inspired by landlocked countries like Switzerland that are doing great internationally, says Ruhullah Rastagar, the director of the Afghan Beach Football Committee.
"And now we are doing better than a lot of countries who have beaches. We have beaten powerful teams such as Malaysia and China. If we have enough support, I am sure Afghanistan's beach football team will be at the top of the world rankings soon," he adds.
- Sun, soil, stones -
The enthusiasm shown by Afghan children for the beautiful game came to the world's attention last year when six-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi became an online hit after he was pictured wearing an improvised Lionel Messi shirt made out of a plastic bag. He later met his hero. Almost 200 boys, many from extremely poor families, train around three times a week at the Ghazi stadium.
"Most of our players are street kids who do not have any other chance to show their talents to the world," says Baran. "I go to very remote areas of Kabul to find these talents. If you can play on the street, you can play on the beach," he adds.
Baran played in the victory over Qatar. Afterwards he signed for a Brazilian beach football club in Sao Paulo but soon returned home, committed to developing Afghanistan's future stars.
"Unfortunately, nobody supports us financially. But I hope people help us so that we can continue this programme, which is very unique," Baran says.
Beach football pitches require a specific type of sand, usually sourced from beaches and desert dunes.
But at the Ghazi ground, the kids -- many of them barefoot -- play on heavier sand used for building construction, which is mixed with soil and rocks. Rather than a glittering ocean as a backdrop, the pitch is surrounded by dried-out thorn bushes.
The laughter of the young players is a welcome change from the ground's sinister past, however.
During the Taliban's rule from 1996-2001 thousands of spectators would be called to the stadium
to watch a football match. Before kick-off or at half-time people deemed disloyal to the regime were often executed or mutilated in front of the crowd.
Now, as dusk falls, the exhausted, dust-covered kids smile as they enthusiastically shake hands before heading home, dreaming of following in Baran's footsteps.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Entertainment »

Elnaaz surprised by Salman -Katrina controversy about Sacred Games


Actress Elnaaz Norouzi is surprised that there is a controversy about the characters of Karan Wahi and her in the Netflix series Sacred Games. The characters are alleged to have taken inspiration from real life incidents in Salman Khan and his ex-girlfriend Katrina Kaif's real lives.  "While shooting the episodes, ...

Entertainment »

Vidya Balan is all set to play her first Telugu film!


One can't refute the fact that Vidya Balan is one of the most versatile actresses in Indian Cinema today. The National Award Winning actress has never shied away from going off the beaten track and picking up complex and challenging roles. Needless to say, she has effortlessly nailed them all ...

Football »

Mbappe to donate US $500,000 World Cup winnings to charity


Sports Desk :French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe will be donating his entire World Cup earnings to a charity that organises sporting events for children with disabilities.The 19-year-old reportedly earned about US$22,300 per game in the tournament and an additional US$350,000 for helping his country lift the World Cup trophy on ...

Editorial »

Trump‘s behaviour in meeting with Putin regarded as disgraceful


US President Donald Trump has defended Russia over claims of interference in the 2016 presidential election. After face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies and said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote, as per international media reports.Mr Putin ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee member Dr Khondkar Mosharraf Hossain speaking at an opinion sharing meeting on 'Role of Present Election Commission and Blue Print of the Government' organised by Bangladesh Youth Forum at the Jatiya Press Club on Tuesday.


International »

No reason to believe Russia behind election meddling


Reuters, Helsinki :U.S. President Donald Trump emerged from a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday saying he saw no reason to believe Russia had hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the Russian leader "was extremely strong and powerful" in denying it.Trump held his meeting just days after a special ...

International »

US, North Korea hold 'productive' talks on war remains: Pompeo


AP, Seoul :U.S. and North Korean officials held "productive" talks Sunday to discuss the return of U.S. service members' remains missing since the Korean War, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.Pompeo, who was not part of the talks, said in a statement that working level meetings between U.S. and ...

Business & Economy »

American Tony Roma now in Dhaka


Business Desk :America's most favorite ribs & steak chain "Tony Roma's" opened officially in Bangladesh on Monday.The first flagship outlet was launched at the most aristocratic zone in the city, NEB (3B), Road#74, Gulshan-2 in Dhaka. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat attended the function as the chief guest.Tony Roma's ...

Editorial »

Govt`s pragmatic step is needed to save Bangladesh from adverse impact of global warming


A RECENT study has shown that Bangladesh is among the countries 'most at risk' as over one billion people in the world are lack of air conditioning and refrigeration to keep them cool and to preserve food and medicines while global warming increasing temperatures. More electricity demand for fridges, fans ...

Football »

Harry Kane wins Golden Boot


England captain Harry Kane has won the Golden Boot after finishing as the World Cup's top scorer with Croatia's Luka Modric winning the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament.Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard was the second-best player, with France forward Antoine Griezmann third.His French team-mate Kylian Mbappe won ...

Football »

Luka Modric (left) poses with the Golden Ball with Kylian Mbappe holding his Young Player Award on Sunday.


Entertainment »

Mamo, Mehazabien together


Entertainment Report :Zakia Bari Mamo and Mehazabien Chowdhury came to showbiz from the common platform. Both of them have common respect to each other. They won the hearts of many viewers by virtue of presenting their acting skills in last Eid works. Directors can easily rely on them. In last ...

City »

President candidate of a faction of BFUJ Molla Jalal, among others, at a journalists' rally organised by 'BFUJ Nirbachane Dabi Adai Sangram Committee'at the Jatiya Press Club on Monday demanding declaration of BFUJ election result.


International »

Gaza mourns teenage boys killed in Israeli air raid


Al Jazeera News :Umm Luay zooms in on a photograph on her mobile phone and kisses the screen, again and again.In the photo, her son, Luay Kaheel, is seen smiling alongside his friend, Amir al-Nimra. The two teenagers, 16 and 15 respectively, died on Saturday minutes after an Israeli air ...

Editorial »

Nobody could enjoy freedom to foil peaceful movement of students


ONCE again, the activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) yesterday assaulted some students and teachers of Dhaka University to foil their human chain programme at Central Shaheed Minar demanding release of three quota reformists. The reformist leaders Jashim and Moshiur were shown arrested in a case filed for the attack ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news