Friday, 4 November 2011

Can cricket become a peace tool for Afghanistan

Sports is a very powerful tool. It has power to unite people across the divide. For so many years people have been seen uniting behind their sportsperson, be it the ancient time warriors when that was a sport or in modern time a India behind Sachin or France behind Zidane or many more.

The has been seen on various occasions. When the Iraqi Football team won the Asian championship people could be seen shouting "We love Iraq". They forgot that whether they were Shia or Sunni or were they Arab or Kurd. That helped rekindle the dwindling identity of Iraq and people could be proud of being related to it. Similarly whole of Palestine rallied behind their team when they won the Football league of Israel.

Sports can be very powerful tool in other direction too. It was behind this sports that two countries El Salvador and Nicaragua went to war with each other. This happened after a bitter football match and immediately a war popularly known as "Football War". So it leaves us without any doubt that sport has got extreme power over people

Cricket for Peace in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a beautiful country. I never have been there but seeing various pictures on internet or posted by my friends from Afghanistan, I surely can say it is beautiful country. However the country has been bound by wars, strife for over 31 years now. The country consists of people of various ethnic groups like Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Baluch. The country has over years seen internal interference from various countries including Pakistan, Russia, USA, India, Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to name a few. The countries has got many dividing factors. Cricket definitely is the factor that can be the binding factor that the country needs.

Cricket was introduced to Afghans while living in the refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet Invasion. When the times became better they took the game back with them to Afghanistan. Cricket gained so much popularity that the Taliban regime which had banned all sports even Kite flying allowed cricket and even initiated the process of Afghanistan Team. The dream run of Afghanistan team begun when they started from Division 5 to reach for ODI Status and then qualify for the World Twenty20. This brought in even more support behind cricket to such that level that people who did not even understand game properly supported their team with full rigor.

When the new Ghazi Amanullah Khan Cricket Stadium at Jalalabad came up and the first match held the stadium was full in no time. So many people turned out that the financiers of the stadium decided to double it's capacity and immediately started it's construction.

 USA should realize the power of cricket in Afghanistan. USA should use it power to reach out to people and give them international opportunities. For this it should have a 3 step policy

Firstly it should take cricket to the deepest of parts and make it a very important part of the social fibre. There have been few stadiums coming up in Afghanistan but it should ensure they quickly come up in all the 30+ Provinces. Besides that grounds and equipment should be provided all across the country. This would ensure that cricket trickles down to the bottom and more solidly bonds in the national fibre

Obama thinking: Is he thinking a Peace Cricket Series between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and USA?

Secondly USA should ensure that the national team gets more international exposure and training. USA should also wield it's influence on Australia, UK, India, Pakistan and taking this as top priority pressurize them on playing some short series against the Afghan's. This would give a good exposure to the team but most importantly something for Afghans to cheer behind. A victory against the team would bring cheer and make people rally behind Afghanistan . This could be seen when in Asian Games the Afghan's defeated Pakistan, the whole nation was celebrating. 

An Idea for the same can be a series in USA involving India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA. This surely will be a peace series with USA getting a chance of involving 2 very important stakeholder of Afghanistan India and Pakistan. Also this series will provide a chance to break ice between India and Pakistan and also a chance of taking USA Afghan rivalry onto the field and not through guns.

Celebrating Heroes. Such performances help the nation to rally behind there teams and get over dividing issues

Thirdly it should ensure that better results start to come. If cricket is able to provide Afghan's something to rally behind and cheer about more importantly even more proud of the Afghan identity before their clan this will be a big step towards taking it to peace The Afghan's are known to be sturdy people full of dedication to whatever they take up. It was their dedication that brought a super power USSR on to it's knees. Hence given more chances, it is beyond doubt that the Afghan's will make it to one of the best.

In the end I am not saying by playing cricket will bring peace, but cricket is the most important tool to rekindle the Afghan identity and along with that some focused effort can do the trick. The World should realize this and help Afghans on this cause. They owe it to them. I am a real fan of the Afghans and hope peace comes there soon.

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