Sports Uniting Afghans

The recent victories of the national Afghan soccer and cricket teams are helping Afghans overcome the divisive identity politics imposed on them in Afghanistan.

afghans-sports-cricketThey look more like a resilient and united nation. All of the ethnic groups living in modern Afghanistan cheered out long live Afghanistan when the Afghan national team beat India in the South Asian Football Champions final to be the football champions in the region.

Air gun-fire, music, dancing and cheers kept Kabul awake on the night of September 11, 2013 when their national heroes won the title in Katmandu, Nepal.

Today, Kabul streets are once again filled with joy and cheers as the Afghan cricket team beat Kenya in Sharja, Dubai to qualify for the upcoming Cricket World Cup in Australia in 2015.  This is an impressive achievement for the Afghans in their country’s short cricket history.

The games broadcast live from Sharja on Afghanistan’s 1 TV channel in Afghanistan attracted hundreds of viewers from all sectors of Afghan society.

Afghanistan is home to a diverse population that includes ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmens and others minority groups living across the country.

In addition, the country is home to both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. The celebrations over the national teams’ achievements showed that Afghans are ever resilient against divisions. They came out united to surprise the world in celebrating the achievement of Afghanistan and honor their colorful flag.

It seems that Afghans have learned that unity among them makes them stronger, successful and unbeatable. They also look more like a modern nation appreciating their diversity, and sharing their own joy regardless of their ethnic background or beliefs.

Celebrating national achievements together also proves that Afghans are working towards re-establishing a progressive and pluralistic society, and will continue doing so after 2014.

Moheb Arsalan J. is an Afghan analyst and commentator on political, conflict, and socio-economic affairs in the Af-Pak region. He can be reached at arsalan.moheb@gmail.com. Read other articles by Moheb.

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