Sport in Afghanistan
The sports in Afghanistan are managed by the Afghan Sports Federation, which promotes cricket, football, basketball, volleyball, golf, handball, boxing, taekwondo, weightlifting, bodybuilding, track and field, skating, bowling, snooker, chess, and other sports. At the moment, cricket and football are the two most popular sports in Afghanistan.
Cricket is the highly followed sport in Afghanistan and is one of the two main sports that Afghans participate in and watch on television. The Afghanistan national cricket team was formed in 2001 and has held matches against all other international cricket teams. The Afghans rapidly rose through the World Cricket League since early 2008. It participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier, 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One, and 2010 ICC World Twenty20 where they played India and South Africa. Afghanistan won the ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. It played in the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. They have also participated in the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Afghanistan recently played ODI against Pakistan which was their first time against full members.
In the national level, cricket matches are played between provinces, mainly between the south and eastern provinces of the country. According to locals, cricket has helped Afghanistan in bringing unity.
The Afghanistan national women's cricket team was formed in 2010.
As in many other countries around the world, soccer is the more popular sport played and watched in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan national football team was formed in 1922, joining FIFA in 1948 and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 1954. Although it did not play in any international games from 1984 to 2003 due to internal conflicts, it is striving and hoping to make it to FIFA one day. The national stadium, which was built during the reign of King Amanullah Khan, has been used for football matches between teams from different provinces of the country as well as neighboring countries. During the 2011 SAFF Championship, the Afghan team marked its first win over Nepal. It scored major victory in the 2013 SAFF Championship against India, receiving its 1st title. Afghanistan won the FIFA Fair Play Award for "dedication and hard work to develop football at the grassroots level" and "built the foundations for the game, nurturing a national league in the midst of violence and destruction."
Basketball has existed in Afghanistan since at least the 1970s, and is slowly becoming popular again. It is played by both Afghan men and women. The Afghanistan national basketball team won a gold medal in the 2010 South Asian Games.
Other sports in which Afghanistan competes include volleyball, golf, track and field, team handball, rugby, boxing, taekwondo, weighlifting, bodybuilding, ice skating, bowling, baseball, snooker, and chess. Saleh Mohammad is a professional Afghan snooker player, who previously represented Pakistan in international competitions but is now representing Afghanistan.
Buzkashi is a traditional sport that is said to have been brought to the region by the Mongols in the 13th century. It is mostly played by people in northern Afghanistan and in Central Asia, as well as in northwestern parts of neighboring Pakistan.
The Afghanistan Rugby Federation (ARF) was formed in 2011, and is registered with the National Olympic Committee and approved by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Stadiums and gymnasiums
There are small sized football stadiums in most major cities of Afghanistan, which were built before the 1970s and they lack modern seatings. They will only improve once more if people turn to sport and the nation's economy picks up, including the security situation and proper investors are found. The President of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, Omar Zakhilwal, announced in October 2010 that the government was planning to construct standard cricket grounds in all 34 provinces in the next two years. There is also another larger gymnasium under construction in Kabul. Currently, there is only the Olympic Committee Gymnasium, which is constantly used by teams of different sports.
The following are some of the major stadiums in Afghanistan:
- Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium in Ghazni Amanullah Khan City, 15 miles east of Jalalabad
- Sherzai Cricket Stadium in Jalalabad
- Kandahar International Cricket Stadium in Kandahar 
- Kandahar Stadium 
- Kabul National Cricket Stadium in Kabul
- Ghazi Stadium in Kabul
- Farmer, Ben (28 September 2012). "Afghanistan launches first professional football league". Kabul: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- "FIFA Awards Afghanistan 'Fair Play Award For 2013'". Rferl.org. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- "Afghanistan secures FIFA 2013 fair play award". Pajhwok Afghan News. January 14, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
- Saleh keen to develop snooker in Afghanistan, November 20, 2010.
- Pajhwok Afghan News - All provinces to have cricket grounds: minister. October 11, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sports in Afghanistan.|