By Zaffar Khan, Khelo Rugby’s Man in Afghanistan
It’s been the 5th time I have been to Afghanistan but the feelings of coming to this land is always special. I remember I have never been to Kabul in a full summer season but this time I was lucky as both time and season was on my side. I have come to Afghanistan to develop Khelo Rugby and I have given my self four months to achieve it with the help of my rugby friends and supported by the Jungle Crows Foundation.
As we landed and the airplane door opened the smell of fresh air punched with diesel hit me. I loved the smell, do not know why, maybe because I was now familiar to it. It was a stunning afternoon with the sun beaming down on the far mountain. People seemed happy I was back so was I. The boys from Kabul United RFC picked me up along with the CEO and as we drove through the busy street of Kabul I was smiling. Everything had changed so much and some time it felt nothing had changed. The tour started with a coaching session with the Afghanistan National Rugby team who I will be helping out along the way.
I was excited the next day and the eager feeling of going to a field was for sure displayed on my face in bright big block letters. Mustafa the Captain of the Afghanistan national team had arranged for a ground after a lot of efforts. What I did not expect was that it would be the Bomb disposal squad ground… every time I walked my mind and heart for the first time agreed together and said “STOP MOVING” .Boys from two clubs Kabul United and Khorasan R.F.C came to the practice and rather making it structured, I just let it flow, did not want to be a pain on the first practice.
Our first Khelo success was at the organization called the Kabul Circus. Situated in a posh suburb no one would believe behind the walls was so exciting, it was a group of Afghan boys and girls juggling tennis balls and sticks and bowling pins. We did a small session with the kids and they loved the game, throwing the mini rugby ball around and watching them have fun, both boys and girls was something special.
Fifteen Girls and sixteen Boys participated in the session and the feedback we got from the directors of the organization was positive. The only concern they had was, “would it be possible for girls to also participate in rugby” I said according to my experience they could give the boys a run for their money. They smiled.
Lyce Amania is the second Khelo centre we have targeted and the principal was more than happy to introduce a sport he has never seen. After a brief conversation with the principal he mentioned that the son of the President of Afghanistan also studies in the same school…I said to one of the new Khelo coaches (Khanjer) we have got to get him to join Khelo Rugby and play. He said “yes we should, rugby is a wonderful sport and every one should have the opportunity to play”…that kept the smile going!