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Afghan Athletes Train with Global Goals


From boxing to badminton to mountain climbing, Afghan athletes are training every day in hopes of bringing Olympic medals and international recognition to Afghanistan. Afghans can be passionate sports fans, and athletes are a source of national pride. As a post-conflict country, training in Afghanistan is sporadic at best and attempts to organize national championships are beset with obstacles. Depsite the challenges, Afghanistan brought a 47-strong team of athletes to the 2006 Asian Games in Doha to compete in 12 sports, including basketball, boxing and karate.

Women athletes have the right to compete for the first time in decades; Afghanistan has already brought home a bronze medal in women’s judo from the Asian Games. In April, Afghanistan’s female Badminton team played training matches in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Boxing has a huge following in Afghanistan. The sport was banned during the Taliban regime but is attracting new aspiring young athletes across the country. Afghan sports officials have made appeals to the International Boxing Association in hopes of attracting resources to build gyms as well as technical support.

On June 16, seven Afghan mountaineers departed Kabul for Italy to attend a month-long training course, following last year’s training in the Hindu Kush mountain range. The team included three female climbers, and aims to promote hiking in Afghanistan. International “Peace Hiking Competitions” have already been held in the the Wakhan and Pamir mountain ranges.

This month, Hamid Hassan will become the first Afghan cricketer to turn out for the Marylebone Cricket Club, the world's most famous cricket club. Also this month, Kabul hosted week-long trials for the selection of Afghanistan’s women’s volleyball squad. Tem Kabul-based clubs, divided into two groups, participated in the trials. An 18-member national team of women spikers will be picked on the basis of the trials.

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