Afghan Sports History

A Chronological History of Sports in Afghanistan

by Abdullah Qazi
(Last updated September 11, 2013)

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1839

  • For the first time ever, cricket is played on Afghan soil by British troops, however, the sport is not picked up by the  Afghans at the time.  It's not until the mid 1990s when Afghan refugees living in Pakistan pick up the sport and then import it to Afghanistan.

Early 1900s

  • During the reign of Amir Habibullah, western-type sports such as tennis and golf were introduced.

1923

  • Ghazi Stadium in Kabul was built during the reign of King Amanullah Khan.  The stadium is used today for football matches and can hold about 25,000 people.

1933

  • Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), the governing body of football (soccer) in Afghanistan was established. AFF controls the Afghanistan National Football Team.

1936

  • Afghanistan competed (for the first time) at the Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. No medals were won.

1941

  • January 1: The first international football (soccer) match was played in Ghazi Stadium in Kabul.  The Afghan team played against the Iranian team.  The game ended in a draw with neither team scoring a goal.

1948

  • Afghanistan Football Federation joins FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)
  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in London. No medals were won.

1954

  • Afghanistan Football Federation joins the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

1956

  • Afghanistan competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, after having missed the 1952 Games in Helsinki. No medals were won.

1960

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Rome. No medals were won.

1964

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. No medals were won, however Afghan wrestler Mohammed Ebrahimi finished 5th in wrestling.

1965

  • Afghan National Bodybuilding Federation created.

1967

  • Kabul Golf Club opened.

1968

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. No medals were won.

1972

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. No medals were won.

1978

  • The Kabul Golf Club was closed down.

1980

  • Afghanistan competed in the Summer Olympics in Moscow (Soviet Union). No medals were won. Many nations including the United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

1984

  • Afghanistan (under Communist rule) boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

1985

  • Afghanistan National Gymnastic Federation was created.

1988

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Seoul. No medals were won.
  • A Buzkashi game was featured in a scene in the American movie, Rambo III, starring Sylvester Stallone.

1993

  • The Kabul Golf Club was reopened.
  • A plane carrying Afghanistan's national bodybuilding team crashed in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing all 12 team members.

1995

  • The Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed in Pakistan. Today it is known as the Afghanistan Cricket Board, and it is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Afghanistan.

1996

  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. No medals were won.
  • Afghanistan sends one athlete to the Paralympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In September 2006, the Taliban capture Kabul and a major restrictions were placed. Women were no longer allowed to participate in sports, and the Kabul Golf Club was closed down. Taliban also banned Buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan.
  • Kabul's Ghazi Stadium is used to hold public executions by the Taliban.

1998

  • Afghan Sports Federation (ASF) was established. ASF is a non-profit organization based in Fairfax, Virginia of Metropolitan Washington D.C. area. Their goal is to promote "amateur sports among the Afghan youths and Adults both men and women at every level of excellence in the region, the United States and the world."

1999

  • Afghanistan was banned from Olympic competition because of the Taliban. Afghanistan was also banned from the Paralympics as well.

2000

  • Cricket was one of the few sports allowed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

2001

  • Afghanistan's national cricket team was formed.
  • Afghan cricket team became a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

2002

  • Afghanistan was reinstated and allowed to once again compete in Olympic competition.

2003

  • Afghan cricket team became a member of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

2004

  • The Afghanistan Paralympics Federation (AFP) was founded on February 14th.  AFP is a sovereign body that  represents all the various categories of disabled athletes from around Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan returned to the Olympic Games at the Summer Olympics in Athens. Female athletes Friba Razayee and Robina Muqim Yaar represented Afghanistan for the first time in the country's history. No medals were won.
  • In mid September, two athletes from Afghanistan, one of them a woman named Mareena Karim (first time in history), traveled to Athens to compete in the Paralympics Games.
  • The Kabul Golf Club reopened - nine-hole golf course located near Kargha.
  • Afghanistan's Handball Federation became a member of the International Handball Federation.

2005

  • Afghan cricket team were finalist in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U-15 Cup.

2006

  • December 1 to 15: Afghanistan participated in the Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar.
  • Afghan cricket team were finalists in the Middle East Cup.

2007

  • January 28 - February 4: Afghanistan participated in the Asian Winter Games which was held in Changchun, China.
  • July 15: Afghan Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Siyar Bahadurzada defeats Japan's Shikou Yamashita to win the Shooto light heavyweight championship.
  • August 1: The National Basketball Association of Afghanistan was established.
  • November 2: Afghanistan and Oman shared the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Twenty20 Cup.
  • November 7: For the first time, a female boxing federation was established by Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee.
  • November 11: For the first time, an Afghan Wushu team competed in the International Wushu Tournament  in Beijing. 
  • December 29: Bodybuilding club for women was inaugurated in Parwan province.
  • Afghan cricket team were finalists in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U-19 Elite Cup

2008

  • Afghanistan's first-ever Kabul-Jalalabad cycle race (also known as the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Cycle Race) began on August 15th.
  • In late August, the first female weightlifting competition was held in Kabul.
  • Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Rohullah Nikpai made history by winning Afghanistan's first Olympic medal. He defeated world champion Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain to take the bronze in the men's under 58-kilogram Taekwondo competition on August 20th.
  • A five member Afghan Paralympics delegation participated in the Beijing Paralympics held from September 6 to September 15.
  • Afghan cricket team won the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U-17 Challenge Cup, won the Pepsi International Cricket Council World Cricket League Division 4, came in third in the Asian Cricket Council Trophy Elite, and won the International Cricket Council World Cricket League Division 5.

2009

  • April 17: Afghan cricket team achieved ODI (One-Day International) status. In the Super Eight of the 2011 World Cup Qualifiers, Afghanistan finished fifth.
  • October 29: Construction completed on the first-ever all-inclusive skatepark and educational facility (Skateistan Skatepark) in Kabul.

2010

  • January 26: Afghanistan Sports Committee for the Deaf formed.
  • January 29 - February 9th: Afghanistan participated in the 11th South Asian Games in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  Overall, they won 32 medals - 7 gold, 9 silver, and 16 bronze.
  • February 13: Afghanistan's cricket team defeated the team from the United Arab Emirates - securing themselves a place in the World Twenty20 finals. This was the first time an Afghan team made it to the finals of a major ICC (International Cricket Council) tournament.
  • April 9: In cricket, Afghanistan defeated Nepal to win for the first time, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy Elite competition.
  • October 10: Museum of National Olympics Committee was inaugurated in Kabul by Minister of Information and Culture, Sayed Makhdoum Rahin.
  • November 17: Afghan golf team (Ali Ahmad Fazel and Hashmatulah Sarwari) makes Asian Games debut in Guangzhou, China.
  • November 26: Afghan cricket team won a silver medal in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
  • November 29: Afghanistan Rugby Federation officially registered with Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee.
  • December 4: Afghanistan defeated Scotland by 7 wickets to win the International Cricket Council (ICC) Intercontinental Cup trophy.

2011

  • January 15: Afghanistan joined Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan to create the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Baseball Federation (BBF).  President of the Afghanistan Baseball Federation:  Hamid Ullah
  • April 24: Afghan women boxers, Sadaf Rahimi and Shogofa Haidarzada, competed in the inaugural AIBA (International Boxing Association) World Youth and Junior Championships in Antalya, Turkey.
  • June: Afghan bodybuilding team wins the 8th South Asian Bodybuilding Championship.
  • April 30: Mohammad Seyar Azadani, representing Afghanistan, won the Kata competition in the 3rd USA Kyokushin-kan Karate Open Championships.
  • December 11: Afghanistan defeated Hong Kong to win the ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Twenty20 Cup.
  • December 11: Afghanistan finished in second place at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup.

2012

  • February 24: Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi defeated Ruslan Rodivich to become the interim World Boxing Union (WBU) middle weight champion.

2013

  • Afghanistan defeated India 2-0 to win the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship for the first time in history.

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