by Abdullah Qazi
September 24, 2008
Grab a newspaper or browse through your favorite international news web site
and you will find plenty of bad news coming from Afghanistan. On any given day,
you will find news about bombings, abductions, and abuse of women and children.
Luckily, not all the news coming out of Afghanistan is bad, especially when it
comes to sports news.
First it is worth mentioning that Afghanistan's cricket team is doing so well
that it has gotten the attention and excitement of Afghans all over the world.
The last time I played cricket was when I was 6 years old and my family was in
Pakistan. I no longer remember the rules or how to play, but now I find myself reading
up on the subject, and watching cricket videos on YouTube.
Rohullah Nikpai's historical win of a bronze medal in taekwondo in Beijing
this summer is another source of great excitement for Afghans everywhere. Nikpai
made history because his win was the first time an Afghan ever won an Olympic
medal. Hopefully, 4 years from now, he brings home a gold medal. Fortunately,
for me and other Afghan sports fans, the excitement will not end here.
Tuesday evening, I had just arrived home from work and decided to check my
email. In my inbox, I saw an an email from Mr. Scott McCook, he had written to
me about water polo in Afghanistan. Mr. McCook is the Director of Development
and Fundraising for a not-for-profit organization called the Dream of
Afghanistan Athletics. According to Mr. McCook's email, the organization was created
to provide financial support to Afghanistan Water Polo - the governing
body of water polo in Afghanistan created to promote and develop the sport.
Perhaps it's not an oxymoron, per se, but the terms Afghanistan, and water
polo seemed odd to me in the beginning, especially since Afghanistan is a
land-locked country with perhaps less than 20% of the population being swimmers,
and not to mention that there are very few clean pools in the country. Then
again, Afghans do love to play sports, all sorts of sports, from archery to
wushu, so why not water polo?
Mr. McCook was also kind of enough to send me copies of his press releases.
One was about Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee sanctioning men's water
polo as a new national sport, and another about the committee naming Jeremy Piasecki as the head coach and director of Afghanistan's National Men's Water
Polo Team. The goal is for the team to raise enough funds to be able to travel
abroad to train properly. Ultimately the goal is to send the team to the 2016
Summer Olympics. Imagine the team bringing home a gold medal for Afghanistan in
Even if they don't win a medal, Afghanistan has come a long way. I still
remember the days when I read about the Taliban banning various different sports
and using our national stadiums and sports parks to carry out their ruthless
punishments and executions. I for one, am very grateful to people like Mr.
McCook and Mr. Piasecki for stepping up and making a difference in the lives of
ordinary Afghans. Now, thanks to Mr. McCook, I will be reading up on water polo
and watching videos on YouTube.
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