PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Many young Afghans are closely following the World Cup matches. The Tattoo’s Pakistan-based Edrees Kakar recently spoke with three fellow Afghans about the sport and its top tournament. Interviewed were Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal of Kabul, Afghanistan, the former goalkeeper of Afghanistan’s national football team and a member of the Afghanistan Football Federation; Sanaullah Sahibzada, 20, living in Peshawar, Pakistan and Ishaq Allozai, 22, of Kabul.
The Tattoo: How do you feel about the World Cup?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: It is a great event in the world and a very nice time for the people of the world to enjoy themselves by watching football, making friends from different parts of the world and understanding about different cultures as well. It also brings the people of the world closer.
Ishaq Allozai: I feel very great and am waiting for it patiently.
Sanaullah Sahibzada: The World Cup is the most important and popular event in the sporting world.
The Tattoo: How much interest do the Afghan people have in the World Cup?
Sanaullah Sahibzada: It seems like 80 percent of Afghan youth are interested for football and wait with great interest for the World Cup. Most of these youths will even stay up very late at night to watch the football games as they’re broadcast live from other time zones.
The Tattoo: How are those who cannot watch the World Cup as it comes only once every four years – and for some is the biggest event in sports?
Ishaq Allozai: They are unlucky to miss this major event in the world of sports.
The Tattoo: Why is Afghanistan not in the World Cup today since football is the most popular game in the country?
Sanaullah Sahibzada: We had a strong national team in Asia about 25 years ago, but decades of war robbed all professional fields of talent, including football.
The Tattoo: How do you feel about Afghanistan not being a part of the World Cup and what you think about Afghan football?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: I will be really glad if Afghanistan has a chance to appear in the World Cup, but people understand that Afghanistan is in a position to concentrate more on other aspects of life such as security and reconstruction rather than their immediate appearance in the World Cup.
Ishaq Allozai: It will be a proud feeling if Afghanistan would one day be in the World Cup. And Afghan football needs more and more time to be in the World Cup.
The Tattoo: Do you think the World Cup brings footballers together to improve their own nation’s football, and if so, how?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: As the World Cup football games are the most important football matches for a team and player, so the teams from different parts of the world who gather try to show the best they can offer. Of course, that is a great chance for all the players to learn from each other. World Cups always increase the quality of football.
Ishaq Allozai: Yes, of course. For the World Cup, every footballer tries hard and practices hard and trying and practicing makes everything improve.
The Tattoo: What will be the outcome of this World Cup besides a single champion nation?
Ishaq Allozai: The outcome will be great popularity and pride for their nation.
The Tattoo: Will the impression of this World Cup bring improvement to Afghan football and encourage more youth to play the game?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: Afghanistan’s people have always loved sports and they are brave enough for any sport, so after decades of war, now Afghan people, especially the youth, will have a good chance to choose the right sport for them. Of course, this World Cup will get more young Afghans involved, which hopefully will be a good development for the country.
Ishaq Allozai: Yes it brings improvements to Afghan football and encourages youth because Afghanistan’s TV channels bring the World Cup live and Afghan people have more chances than before to watch this World Cup.
The Tattoo: What can be the feelings of the majority population in Afghanistan who don’t have access to electricity and have a lot of interest in the game?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: Well, of course it is a huge matter in Afghanistan which needs time to solve. It will really reduce the chance of improvement in Afghan football, as people who cannot watch the games will loose their interest.
Ishaq Allozai: It will be a great disappointment for them. It is like your every favorite food is on the table but you’re on a diet.
The Tattoo: Will it be an enjoyable month for Afghan youths who’ve been waiting for the World Cup?
Ishaq Allozai: Yes it will be a very enjoyable month for Afghan youths and footballers.
The Tattoo: Does the Afghan Football Federation prepare any kind of team gathering during the World Cup with its coaches?
Abdul Wakil Arghandiwal: They are about to prepare a youth team who will be participating in this event as a guest with Afghanistan’s German coach and two other officials from the Afghan Football Federation.
Edrees Kakar is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.