The Afghan Sports Federation (ASF) held the 15th annual Afghan Cup in the DC metro area from July 5th to July 8th.
The sporting and cultural events were preceded by a formal dinner reception hosted by ASF for team representatives, event sponsors, Afghan community leaders, Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee representatives, Afghanistan’s National Football Coach, Afghan diplomats and athletes. This dinner reception outlined the schedule, rules and agenda for all participants in the four-day event.
Soccer teams from all over the United States and Canada played in matches spread out over four days. Many Afghan players from Europe and Afghanistan participated in the event despite the grueling heat in the region.
Basketball teams also participated in the tournament, which has become the premier destination for Afghan athletes across the world.
A Table Tennis tournament was also organized this year as per the request of players representing Afghanistan internationally, with the top two players being selected to join them on Afghanistan’s National Squad.
The presence of Afghanistan’s National Football (Soccer) Head Coach Mr. Yusuf Kargar encouraged the participation of Afghan athletes hoping to possibly earn a spot on the Afghan National Football Squad, as per prior agreement with ASF and Afghanistan’s National Football Association.
Afghanistan’s National Basketball General Secretary Mr. Ghous Nikbeen also participated in the event in order to add to the number of talented US basketball players who represented Afghanistan in its first Gold Medal win in Dhaka in 2010. The President of Afghanistan’s Tennis Association Mr. Azim Niazi was also in the delegation to scout athletes from all over the US in the coming days.
Afghanistan’s Red Crescent Society, one of the event sponsors, took advantage of the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Afghan-American community through its presence in these events. Their President Mrs. Fatima Gailani’s video message was broadcast to the thousands in attendance. Its Executive Director Mrs. Fatema Bayat who also presented trophies to the winners represented the Bayat Foundation as one of main corporate sponsors of the ASF. She did so while emphasizing women’s participation in ASF events, which continues to be a longstanding policy of the organization.
ASF also held a soccer clinic for young players and announced the creation of a new ASF Youth Soccer Academy to be run by its team of expert coaches: Jawed Sanie, Jamil Faryadi and Abdullah Monawer. This year ASF supporters worldwide benefited greatly from new innovative score reporting and immediate updating of results on the ASF website and the ASF Official Facebook page, which was managed by ASF Creative Director Faiz Behgoman and Social Media Coordinator Aimal Ahmadzai.
The championship games were played on July 8th at the Discovery Center Soccerplex in Germantown, Maryland. The soccer finale was played between Afghan Premier of California and defending champion Brishna of New York. Brishna was able to win the fiercely competitive match with a score line of 1-0 and were thus crowned Afghan Cup 2012’s soccer champions.
The basketball championship game was played between Virginia’s The City & New York’s Afghan 5. The City successfully defended their title and won the championship game by a score of 43-40 thereby becoming Afghan Cup 2012’s basketball champions.
The Table Tennis tournament champion was Mustafa Nawabi of Virginia who beat Basir Subati of Afghanistan.
All guests, including former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq & Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as this year’s featured artist Ehsan Aman joined ASF Executives, Vice President Atiq Panjshiri, Basketball Commissioner Esmael Husseini, Soccer Commissioner Zia Panjshiri, Events Coordinator Mrs. Hassina Ansary, Women Program Coordinator Ms. Awista Zazay and Assistant Soccer Commissioner Esmat Abbasi on the stage to award trophies to team captains. In his opening remarks, Mr. Panjshiri announced that ASF is in discussion with Afghanistan National Olympic Committee and National Football Federation to host similar events in Afghanistan, an effort to revive the tradition established in the 1960s and 70s of hosting sporting events in Kabul. ASF President, Ajmal Ghani A. dedicated the games to the memory of Mr. Wahid Etemadi, Afghanistan’s former Olympic Committee President in the 70’s, who had passed away in Kabul several weeks prior to Cup. He also highlighted the dedication of the Afghan Sports Federation’s team of volunteers, administrators and officials, whose efforts since 1998 have helped unify the Afghan community in the United States and connect it to Afghans from all over the world, especially those still in Afghanistan.