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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 20:43, June 08, 2006
World Cup to be brought live to Afghans for first time
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The following days would be a carnival for billions of soccer fans worldwide as the 2006 World Cup finals is held in Germany, and may be more so for Halim Agha, a 15-year old Kabul boy, as he and other Afghans are able to watch soccer's premier event live on TV for the very first time.

At dusk Wednesday, Agha was playing soccer with his friends on the earth playground before a grand mosque in east Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, a war-torn country in middle Asia.

When asked whether he knew the opening date of the World Cup, Agha, in a white coat, merrily said, "This Friday! And some Afghan TV stations would broadcast it live."

An official of Afghanistan's Tolo TV station told Xinhua that Tolo, as well as the national station and a commercial one, was to broadcast the Cup's key matches live.

The World Cup organization committee has forgiven their fees for acquiring the right to broadcast the matches.

During Taliban's regime from 1996 to 2001, entertainment like music, films and some sports were forbidden in this country of about 25 million.

After Taliban's collapse, recreation, art and so on reappeared in this country.

Tolo means "dawn" in Afghan national Dari language, and Tolo TV takes "Dawn of a New Afghanistan" as its slogan.

As the country's main privately-owned station, Tolo TV, launched in October 2004, broadcasts very independent news and pop music programs, and is very popular with the young generation.

Agha was the only one who knew the World Cup opening date among a dozen of his play mates.

These boys didn't know world stars like David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. However, they all claimed they liked to watch soccer games fanatically, most of which were domestic ones. "We watch matches to learn how to play," said one boy.

Mohamad Siaer, 9, said, "We come here to play soccer almost everyday." He showed a football, which he said was worth 200 afganis (4 U.S. dollars) and 12 boys shared the cost.

Soccer teams in this emerging country receive little financial support from the government as its main focus is to battle terrorism and develop economy.

Raz Mohamad Saltan, vice-chairman of Afghanistan's national football association, said, "We have no football field. We have no money. The government doesn't give a penny to us."

The only fund they received was 250,000 US dollars from the world soccer ruling body FIFA.

There are 23 players in the national team, with 12 living in Kabul. They have to work hard in the daytime to earn bread, and take training together at dusk or in the evening. The other players stay in Pakistan, Tajikistan and other countries, unable to join the training.

"If we have more money, we definitely can play much better," said Saltan.

However, perhaps Saltan can pin his hope for the country's soccer future on the boys like Agha and Siaer.

"I hope I can become a member of the national team one day and serve the country. But I need to work very hard,"said Agha.

Source: Xinhua

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