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Afghan sport officials leave for U.S. to attend sport programs: ISAF


09:09, November 04, 2011

KABUL, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- In efforts to promote sport in war torn-Afghanistan and expand Afghan sports leaders' knowledge and understanding of the potential for Afghanistan's youth sports, a group of Afghan sport officials including Afghan Olympic leaders have recently left for United States.

"At the invitation of the Amateur Athletic Union (An non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the U.S.) and the United States Olympic Committee, the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Taimoor Eshaqzai, and the President of the Afghan National Olympic Committee, Zahir Aghbar, accompanied by a group of Afghan National Olympic Committee sports federation leaders, have departed Kabul to take part in a week-long sports orientation trip to the United States," the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a press release here on Thursday.

Without giving the exact time for the departure, ISAF in the statement said "This trip is part of a broader sports diplomacy strategy being executed by ISAF, working in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy, to build Afghan government's institutional capacity and infrastructure for youth sport programs."

This will contribute to ongoing transition and socio economic development efforts in Afghanistan, ISAF said in the release.

"ISAF anticipates this program will help expand Afghan sports leaders' knowledge and understanding of the potential for Afghanistan's youth sports, from community to national levels," the press release added.

This orientation visit will involve travel throughout Florida, as well as to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado to meet senior sports executives, marketing representatives, and sports physiology and training experts.

The group will visit community-based sports complexes and international training facilities as well as observe youth and collegiate sporting activities.

The football, cricket, basketball, volleyball, golf, boxing, taekwondo, weightlifting, bodybuilding, wrestling, chess and other sports are popular among war-weary Afghans besides some traditional sports like "Buzkashi" in some parts of the country.

The ancient game of Buzkashi, which literally translated means "goat grabbing", is a popular sport in Afghanistan, playing by two teams of horse riders, largely has been playing in northern part of the country and capital Kabul.

"Future sports partnerships and development will benefit Afghan youth (roughly 70 percent of Afghanistan's population) and help provide a viable alternative to drugs, criminal activity, and support for the insurgency," the ISAF release added.

Currently over 130,000 NATO-led ISAF with majority of them Americans have been serving in Afghanistan.

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