Zaffar Khan our Khelo Rugby Manager in Kabul in conversation with the Captain of the Afghanistan Rugby team
With Ramadan and Eid out of the way our Kabul Khelo coaching has moved into full flow. Our community coaches have swung into full action with regular coaching now at eight communities every day of the week. Fantastic weather and a motivated team am sure there is more to come in the upcoming months and things will get better and bettter. The kids have been super excited to be at training. Some children start as early as 5.30am and the kids are much better than the Kabul government civil servants at going to the office, they are on time, ready to go and full of energy. We’ve also had some of the big boys from the Afghanistan Rugby team come out to some of the trainings including the Afghanistan Rugby captain Sayed Mustafa Sadat. The children always love it when he is around…and why not 6ft 2in big shoulders and a very handsome guy, he is very hard to miss. But the kids do not love him for his image but for being a good person, Mustafa is very gentle and full of humor with the kids. He recently donated half his liver to his mother who was struggling for life. He has been both a sport and human idol to all of Afghanistan.
We caught up with Mustafa over cup of green tea (the best thing to have while in a conversation in Afghanistan) and asked him about Khelo and Rugby.
Did you enjoy the training today with the Khelo Rugby children?
Yes the training was really good the kids are very excited to learn a lot about the game and I think they will become very good players. They are learning from a very young age and so they will learn quickly. They will need to get stronger physically and mentally but that will happen with time.
What did you like about the training?
The training is very interesting because the important things are well taken care of…for example being punctual, respecting your team mates and more important the training is fun. There are lots of fun games being played. Which I think will always get the kids motivated and interested to come back to the training.
What do you think about the concept of Khelo Rugby as a community project?
Yes it is good…Khelo is doing a very good job. What it is doing is growing rugby in Afghanistan and that’s important because until and unless we develop the sport with children and young people we will not have a good grassroots. Which in turn will mean we would not develop a big variety of players to choose from. I know it will take time and we must have patience. What Khelo is doing ,I think in a few years time we will have a good base of players to choose form.
Afghanistan Rugby Federation (ARF) needs to invest in the national team and give us more exposure and facility so that the national team can work in learning and developing the skills. Also the same for the kid’s rugby. We need to find financial support and also coaching support for all of us so that we can grow as a proud rugby playing nation.
Tell us some thing about your first sport and why rugby?
Laughs… my first sport was very different from rugby but yes lot of running involved also but not contact and we passed with our legs. I used to be a very good football player, well still now though I have not practiced since I have joined rugby, I represented Afghanistan in the U19 football also but after an injury I had to quit playing. I was also in the Afghanistan National kick boxing teams for 4 years years. I think I was doing very well. I like rugby because it is a contact sport and the most important is it is a very good team sport, football is a team sport but what is interesting about rugby is that you have to really work hard for each other. It is not an individual sport, you have to rely on each other…it is like a house of cards one falls and the whole will fall…every one needs to step up to the challenge and work together.
My basic dream about Afghanistan is to now participate into the Asian 5 Nations championship, people talk about the world cup and more but we have to be realistic, it’s not that easy. Teams in Asia like Japan and Hong Kong are way above the rest of the Asian teams and even they find it difficult to jump the qualifying round of the world cup… so we have to be realistic and focus on the plan rather than the unachievable image at the moment. I think I would like Afghanistan to participate in the Asian Division 5 next year and begin working our way up the ladder.
I enjoyed chatting with Mustafa over a few green teas and it was great that he took time out to be with the kids. Khelo Rugby is really kicking on here in Kabul and it’s very exciting to be involved in the development of rugby and to be giving all the Khelo children such a good time.