Sport in Afghanistan

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Local basketball game in Kabul between teams from Herat and Badghis provinces. The Afghanistan national basketball team won a gold medal in the 2010 South Asian Games.

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. Cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan while football is also popular.[1]


Cricket as a sport, is highly followed in Afghanistan and is one of the main sports that Afghans participate in and watch on television. 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 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, and qualified for the first time for the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 in the 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One. The Afghanistan national women's cricket team was formed in 2010. They have competed in the ICC World Twenty20 since their qualification in 2010 and their debut for the Cricket World Cup since 2015.

  • Winners of the ACC Twenty20 Cup the most number of times (2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013).
  • Winners ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2010 and two Runners-up in 2012 and 2013.
  • Winners of the season 2009-2010 ICC Intercontinental Cup and Runners-up in 2011-2013 season.
  • Runners-up in the Asian Games 2010 and 2014.
  • Winners of the 2014 ACC Premier League.
  • Winners of the 2010 ACC Trophy (Elite)


The Afghanistan national football team (in red uniform) playing against India's team (in blue) during the 2011 SAFF Championship. It marked Afghanistan's first win over Nepal.

As in many other countries around the world, soccer is a 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. In the national level, football matches are played between provinces or regions.[1] The Afghanistan women's national football team was formed in 2007. During the 2011 SAFF Championship, the Afghan team marked its first win over Nepal.


Basketball was first played in Afghanistan in 1936. In 1966, the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee (ANOC) founded the Afghanistan national basketball team after receiving challenges from India and Pakistan. Tom Gouttierre, an American Peace Corps and coach of the team at Habibia High School, became the first coach. It is played by both Afghan men and women.

Mixed Martial Arts[edit]

Afghans have taken a recent interest in the Mixed Martial Arts. There are several gyms in Afghanistan which promote the sport and have fighters. Siyar Bahadurzada is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is well known for holding and wearing the Afghan flag around him before and after his professional fights.

Bahadurzada's major achievement:

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship: Knockout of the Night (One time) vs. Paulo Thiago


See also: Rohullah Nikpai
Rohullah Nikpai, two-time Olympic bronze medalist 58kg and 68kg in Taekwondo.

Rohullah Nikpai was the first Afghan representative of his nation to win a medal for Afghanistan in the Olympics. He won Bronze in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the only two occasions Afghanistan have received medals. This sport has recently thrived in Afghanistan by his influence.

Nikpai's medal tally summary in the Olympics:


See also: Hamid Rahimi

Boxing has recently flourished in Afghanistan, with Hamid Rahimi having a huge influence in the country. The first ever boxing match in Afghanistan was held in 2012 with Rahimi fighting and winning by TKO (Technical Knockout).

Other sports[edit]

Other sports in which Afghanistan competes include volleyball, golf, track and field, team handball, rugby, 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.[2]

Buzkashi is a traditional sport and 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.

Afghanistan also became a member of the Federation of International Bandy in 2012.[3][4]

In 2015 Afghanistan held its first marathon; among those who ran the entire marathon was one woman, Zainab, age 25, who thus became the first Afghan woman to run in a marathon within her own country.[5]

Stadiums and gymnasiums[edit]

The Sherzai Cricket Stadium in Jalalabad during its construction in 2011

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.[6] 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:


External links[edit]