Afghanistan to play first rugby competition

Just two years after its formation, Afghanistan Rugby Federation celebrates national team’s first official tournament.

Afghanistan rugby
Afghanistan rugby team at Kabul Airport heading to Mumbai Asian Sevens tournament [Al Jazeera]

Rugby in Afghanistan is the newest sport and it is now gaining the attention of the international community.

The limited resources and lack of the proper grounds for rugby make, in my opinion, the Afghan rugby players the toughest in the world. The pitches and grounds where the players practice or play matches against each other are full of gravel, stones, holes…and are all grassless.

But still the players play, and now as they leave Kabul to compete in their first official competion at the Asian Sevens in Mumbai, they are fulfilling the dream of representing their nation on the world stage.

“…sport is a strong tool for bringing peace, stability and brotherhood in Afghanistan, and not the weapons and war planes, since we have witnessed that with the bombings and fights nothing has been achieved”

There are about 50 countries helping Afghanistan to fight terrorism, but there is not a single country to help our war-torn country develop the sport.

In the capital city of Kabul, where a population of an estimated eight million live, there is only one stadium – which is the only proper pitch in the whole country that meets the standards.

The rugby players have never been allowed to play any tournament or games at home except for a few exhibition matches.

The reason is very clear – that is the lack of other proper pitches and grounds and the huge number of players and sport in the country.

I think we should believe that sport is a strong tool for bringing peace, stability and brotherhood in Afghanistan, and not the weapons and war planes, since we have witnessed that with the bombings and fights nothing has been achieved.

The security situation in Afghanistan is worsening day by day, and it seems that if it continues the same way and strategy I am sure that not only in the next decade but in the next century peace will not be stable in Afghanistan. 

The line has been drawn by Afghanistan cricket, and the Afghan Cricket Board has their own grounds and stadiums in all the zones of the country.

Going it alone

It is now clear that no one will come to help Afghan Rugby until they show their own momentum for the rapid development and progress of the game, and to participate in international competitions.

It is understood that there is no commercial organisation which will come to help Afghan Rugby, until it achieves a noticeable status in the world – not only in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Rugby Federation (ARF) was formed and registered less than two years ago and got the affiliation with the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) in November last year.

It is a pleasure that the federation has played very effective role in the development of rugby with no resources and facilities in their hands. There is no budget allocated for the players or the management of the federation, their aim is not working for money but for the development of sport in Afghanistan and to expand the game of rugby to each and every part of the country.

    Talking team tactics: Afghanistan face the likes of Japan, India and Pakistan in competition [Al Jazeera]

It is a big achievement for Afghanistan Rugby Federation that in less than two years Afghanistan will mark its first-ever official Asian Rugby Football Union competition in Mumbai, having played in an unofficial three-match sevens competition against the United Arab Emirates development side, UAE Shaheen, earlier this year in Dubai. 

Despite lacking experience, the Afghans have the physical attributes required at international level and managed to take one match out of the three in a promising start in Dubai.

A crowd favourite, Afghanistan will have an excellent opportunity to show its improvement over the past five months at Bombay Gymkhana, the home of rugby in India.

Adding to the excitement this weekend in Mumbai, the tournament has attracted a record 16 teams in 2012, making it the largest event on the HSBC A7s Series to date.

Joining the 10 core teams participating at all events on the 2012 Series are Chinese Taipei, the United Arab Emirates (both of whom will be marking their final Series appearance in 2012), as well as India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all making their 2012 Series debut.

Afghanistan will have its preliminary matches with Japan, Philippines and Singapore on Saturday October 13, 2012.

We understand that our competitors are the strong teams and they are very experienced ones, but Afghanistan will never be a very weak competitor and I am sure that we will give tough time to our contenders.

Asad Ziar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan Rugby Federation. Twitter @AsadZiar




Source: Al Jazeera