British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced an exciting new partnership between the FA, Premier League and equivalent football bodies in Afghanistan to help support the growth and development of football in Afghanistan. It is hoped that this new affiliation will further aid and benefit the already flourishing impact football is having on communities across the entire country.
The announcement comes after the Prime Minister’s recent visit out to British troops currently serving in Afghanistan, where the British leader was accompanied by FA ambassador Michael Owen and representatives from the Afghan Football Federation and the Afghan Premier League.
The welcomed partnership seeks to support all levels of Afghan football, from grassroots right up to the Afghan Premier League and Afghan national team. As well as this, there will also be support for both youth and women’s football within the country, integrating all forms of the sport on all fronts.
The agreement set up will provide Afghan football and its relative associations with a range of benefits, including assistance in the training of national players and coaches at the England national team’s training facilities, a complete assessment of grassroots football in Afghanistan with the AFF along with the production of a development plan to help improve areas of the nation’s game and administration.
It is hoped that these prospective benefits will create a more promising and stable infrastructure that can help Afghan football grow into the future and achieve the nation’s target of qualifying for the 2020 World Cup in Qatar. As well as building the capacity of football in Afghanistan, the other desired, and perhaps most important impact is the social implications this will encourage. By promoting the stature of football on both a national and local level a sense of community amongst locals will be built, giving residents common interests and a shared social activity in which to participate.
Mr Cameron explained that, “We often think of sport as just about a competition [however] it also has an amazing power to bring people together and unite communities for the benefit of all involved.
“That’s exactly what is happening with football in Afghanistan. The team’s victory in the South Asia Cup captured the imagination of millions and brought together Afghans of all ages, communities and beliefs demonstrating to the rest of the world the spirit of the Afghan people and the potential of this country as a whole.”
Such a social and political approach to national and international relations has born fruitful success in the past, most notably with the late Nelson Mandela during his time as South African president, using the rugby World Cup as an opportunity for national unity in 1995.
The positive reaction emanating from groups and communities across the country is acting as an aberration from the period of political unrest endured in Afghanistan, uniting people and setting aside differences whilst instilling an element of social peace. With football becoming an increasingly prominent part of Afghan culture, connections with globally recognised associations such as the FA and the Premier League will only raise its profile and aid in building both international and civil relations towards a more prosperous future.
What impact will this new partnership have on Afghanistan’s football infrastructure? What socio-political implications will this encourage on both a national and international scale and what will be the benefits of these?