By Manfred Christoph
The resurrection of Afghanistan's national football team is continuing apace - and Germany is providing some much-needed support in the form of assistance from the German National Olympic Committee (NOK), the German Football Association (DFB) and the Foreign Office (AA), as represented by football experts Holger Obermann and Ali Askar Lali.
The Afghan national team used to be composed only of players from the country's capital, Kabul. Now, for the first time, the new team will also contain representatives from the Herat province, Kandahar and Mazar-e-sharif. Afghanistan's aim is to compete in the qualifying competition for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Partners in support
Obermann and Lali have been in charge of the German football project in the country for three months; a project that would not be possible without the funding and organisation offered by the DFB in co-operation with the NOK and the Foreign Office. This commitment also means that, for the first time, a delegation of coaches from Afghanistan will take part in a DFB coaching course in Honnef near Bonn.
Three Afghan coaches are preparing to travel to Germany for this course: national coach Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada, former Afghan international and coach of the Division A army team Yousuf Karger, and Mohammad Rahil Formoly, a current international and sports teacher at the University of Kabul.
We are very thankful to the German FA and the German government that these three coaches are being offered the chance of being educated at such a high level," said the president of the Afghan Football Association, Abdul Alim Kohestani. "I am absolutely certain that these three will represent our country well."
Coaching course in Germany
The course, which will also be attended by around 30 coaches from Asia, Africa and Central America, takes place from 10-15 October in the Sportschule Hennef and is funded by the Foreign Office.
Another project in the pipeline in Afghanistan aims to give girls a chance to shine in football. The 'Pilot project for girls' football' will offer organised training sessions and matches for girls in and around Kabul.
"Sport must also be accessible for girls," said Obermann. The former TV journalist and holder of a coaching licence then explained that the project was set up to meet interest in the sport from Afghan girls. "They expressed their intention to the ministry in charge themselves," Obermann said. After talks with the education ministry, Obermann and Lali are optimistic that the pilot project they have proposed will soon start at a girls' school in Kabul. Further education for teachers will follow, in which help and practical coaching advice will be given.
The German-backed projects are financially supported by several major companies and, as a result, the most talented players in Kabul can also be offered work. Additionally, six football grounds will be built in co-operation with mayor Anwar Jegdalek who, as president of Afghanistan's Olympic committee, is looking for appropriate pieces of land to build on. The reconstruction of Afghanistan is only just beginning.
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