A Chronological History of Sports in Afghanistan
by Abdullah Qazi
(Last updated July 27, 2020)
900 – 1400 AD
- Around this time, Buzkashi, the national sport of present-day Afghanistan was introduced and spread throughout the region.
- For the first time ever, cricket is played on Afghan soil by British troops, however, the sport was not picked up by Afghans at the time. It’s not until the mid-1990s when Afghan refugees living in Pakistan picked up the sport and then imported it to Afghanistan.
- During the reign of Amir Habibullah, western-type sports such as tennis and golf were introduced.
- Afghanistan National Football Team was formed.
- 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.
- Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), the governing body of football (soccer) in Afghanistan was established. AFF controls the Afghanistan National Football Team.
- Afghanistan competed (for the first time) at the Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. No medals were won.
- 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.
- Afghanistan Football Federation joined FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)
- Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in London. No medals were won.
- Afghanistan Football Federation joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
- Afghanistan competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, after having missed the 1952 Games in Helsinki. No medals were won.
- Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Rome. No medals were won.
- Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. No medals were won, however Afghan wrestler Mohammed Ebrahimi finished 5th in wrestling.
- Afghan National Bodybuilding Federation created.
- Kabul Golf Club opened.
- Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. No medals were won.
- Afghanistan competed at the Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. No medals were won.
- The Kabul Golf Club was closed down.
- 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.
- Afghanistan Handball Federation established.
- Afghanistan (under Communist rule) boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
- Afghanistan National Gymnastic Federation was created.
- Afghan Women’s Cycling Team was formed.
- 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.
- The Kabul Golf Club was reopened.
- A plane carrying Afghanistan’s national bodybuilding team crashed in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing all 12 team members.
- 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.
- 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 captured Kabul and 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.
- 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.”
- Afghanistan was banned from Olympic competition because of the Taliban. Afghanistan was also banned from the Paralympics as well.
- Cricket was one of the few sports allowed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan’s national cricket team was formed.
- Afghan cricket team became an Affiliate Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
- Afghanistan was reinstated and allowed to once again compete in Olympic competition.
- Afghan cricket team became a member of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
- 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 Asian and International Handball Federations.
- Afghan cricket team was finalists in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U-15 Cup.
- Afghanistan joined the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF).
- December 1 to 15: Afghanistan participated in the Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar.
- Afghan cricket team was finalists in the Middle East Cup.
- 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 defeated 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
- Afghanistan women’s national football team was formed.
- 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.
- April 17: Afghan cricket team achieved ODI (One-Day International) status. In the Super Eight of the 2011 World Cup Qualifiers, Afghanistan finished fifth.
- April 19: Afghan cricket team played its first-ever ODI against Scotland; Afghanistan won the match by 89 runs.
- July 19: Two mountaineers (Malang Jan Darya and Amruddin Sanjar) became the first Afghans to successfully climb Afghanistan’s highest peak. The two men planted Afghanistan’s flag on the top of the 7,492-metre (24,580-foot) Mount Noshaq.
- July 26: Afghanistan Golf Federation was established.
- October 2: For the first time ever, an Afghan team participated in the All Kyokushin Karate World Tournament Budapest, Hungary.
- October 29: Construction completed on the first-ever all-inclusive skatepark and educational facility (Skateistan Skatepark) in Kabul.
- 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: 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) made 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.
- Afghanistan national women’s cricket team was formed (disbanded in late 2014).
- 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.
- May 20: Afghanistan Rugby Federation launched. The first match by the national team was played against New Zealand’s Special Air Services troops in Kabul’s free zone.
- June: Afghan bodybuilding team won 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.
- September 30: Siyar Bahadurzada announced he had signed with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Bahadurzada became the first Afghan to ever sign with the UFC, the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in the world.
- 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.
- January 24: Afghanistan held its first-ever snow rugby game
- February 16: Afghanistan’s national women’s football team won its first official international match by defeating Qatar 2-0.
- February 24: Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi defeated Ruslan Rodivich to become the interim World Boxing Union (WBU) middleweight champion.
- March 10: Afghanistan defeated Qatar to win 2012 ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Under-16 Challenge Cup
- April 15: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Siyar Bahadurzada became the first Afghan to win a match in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the largest MMA organization in the world. Bahadurzada knocked out his opponent Paulo Thiago in just 42 seconds of the first round
- April 27: Afghanistan’s ruby team played its first International match; it was an exhibition Rugby Sevens match against the United Arab Emirates Sheen team.
- June 19: Afghanistan’s basketball team won the gold medal after defeating Turkmenistan in the final of a beach basketball competition in the 3rd Asian Beach Games, held in Haiyang, northeast China’s Shandong province.
- August 9: Afghanistan’s Rohullah Nikpai made history again by winning a bronze medal in Taekwondo in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
- September 18: Afghan Premier League (APL), Afghanistan’s first national football (soccer) league, officially kicked off. First match: De Maiwand Atalan, representing South West Afghanistan went up against Shahin Asmayee from Greater Kabul.
- November 15: Kakail and his brother Amanullah Nuristani established Afghanistan’s first MMA organization and tournament in Afghanistan: Snow Leopard Fighting Championship.
- December 12: Afghan Women’s RFC (Rugby Football Club), operating under Afghanistan Rugby Federation, was established.
- Afghanistan became a member of the Federation of International Bandy.
- April 3: Afghanistan defeated host country Nepal in the final match of the 2013 ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Twenty20 Cup by 7 wickets to win the tournament for the fourth time.
- May 11: Afghanistan’s Under 19 cricket team defeated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the final by 10 wickets to win the ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Elite 2013 cricket tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- September 11: Afghanistan defeated India 2-0 to win the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship for the first time in history. Shortly after FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) increased Afghanistan’s overall ranking to 132nd, 7 places higher.
- March 23: Major traditional Buzkashi game held in central Bamiyan province.
- Afghanistan national women’s cricket team is disbanded.
- February 25: Afghanistan announced that it was leaving the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) to be a founding member of the Central Asian Football Federation (CAFF).
- May 31 – June 6, 2015: Team Asma’i (Nelofar and Zainab), the first all-female ultramarathon team from Afghanistan completed The Gobi March 2015, one of the toughest endurance competitions in the world.
- October 16: Both men and women competed in Afghanistan’s first international marathon in central Bamiyan Province.
- December 6: Afghan pankration fighters won three gold medals in the 6th International Martial Arts Games
- December 10: Great Noida Cricket Stadium in India was announced as Afghanistan’s home ground.
- December 27: The ICC (International Cricket Council) announced that Afghanistan had moved up two places to become number 10 in the world rankings.
- January 1: First ever rugby session (training) was held by Afghan women at the British embassy in Kabul
- January 3: Afghanistan finished 2nd in the 2015 SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Suzuki Championship. This was their last match as part of SAFF.
- The Afghanistan Frisbee Federation (AFF) was established.
- Afghanistan Frisbee Federation and Afghanistan Curling Federation registrations were approved by Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee.
- May 28: Afghanistan was accepted by the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF).
- June 22: Afghanistan became a fully-fledged member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), taking the ICC’s total membership to 12 countries.
- October 12: First football match held at night in over 40 years in Kabul. Shaheen Asmayee, the 2016 Afghan Premier League (APL) champions faced off Simorgh Alborz, the 5th season 3rd place winners at the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) stadium. Shaheen Asmayee beat Simorgh Alborz 1-0.
- November 29: Afghanistan Football Federation won the award for most Aspiring Member Association of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for 2017.
- April 15: Hafeez Wali elected as president of Afghanistan Olympic Committee.
- April 20: 18-year old Afghan swimmer, Abbas Karimi, took gold in the 50m backstroke category at the World Para Swimming Series in Indianapolis in the United States.
- June 23: Sports network ESPN picks cricketer Rashid Khan for its All-Time T20 International Cricket XI.
- June 25: Afghanistan played its first Test cricket match against India in Bangalore. India won the match.
- August 10: Hanifa Yousoufi became the first Afghan woman to reach the summit of Noshaq, the highest point in Afghanistan and the second-highest peak in the Hindu Kush range.
- August 27: Afghanistan Premier League (APL), a Twenty20 cricket franchise tournament, run by the Afghanistan Cricket Board was launched in Dubai.
- August 29: Afghan cricket team played their 100th ODI (One Day International). The match was against Ireland.
- October 5 – 21: Afghanistan Premier League cricket tournament took place at Sharjah Cricket Stadium (United Arab Emirates).
- October 9: Samira Asghari became the first Afghan to be elected to the International Olympic Committee as an elected member.
- January 14: Siyar Bahadurzada, the first Afghan MMA fighter to compete in the UFC announced his retirement. His last match was on September 28, 2019.
- February 20: Members of Afghanistan’s snowboarding team competed for the first time in an international competition (First Pakistan International Snowboarding Open Cup).
- March 5: Opening match for first Buzkashi League held in Kabul.
- June 20: Afghanistan for the first time ever reached the final of the AFC U20 Futsal Championship.
- July 8: Afghanistan Rugby Federation was granted full membership of Asia Rugby.