April 06 is celebrated as International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by United Nations (UN). UN believes that Sport, as a tool for education, development and peace, can promote cooperation, solidarity, tolerance, understanding, social inclusion and health at the local, national and international levels. Its intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game are understood all over the world and can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. For these reasons, states, the United Nations system and, in particular, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, relevant international organizations, and international, regional and national sports organizations, civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and all other relevant stakeholders are invited to cooperate, observe and raise awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
Sport can be useful in development and peace because it strives for cooperation and unity. It brings nations together and urge them to come closer to one another. Different countries, in different international sports events have matches and compete one another and in the process push away the barriers that differentiate or divide them. Different international sports events are very much useful in bringing different countries culturally closer as well. In this way it can provide opportunities to shun adversaries and open the prospects of peace and unity.
At the same time, different types of sports can divert the attention of the people of a nation away from many social evils, such as drugs and terrorism. Youngsters who opt for any sort of sport do not mostly get caught in the quagmire of the drug addiction and the terrorists. The developed countries of the world use sports as one of the major factors that can play a comprehensive role in fighting the social evils. They even consider that sports can be used to promote development with a country. However, the underdeveloped and the developing countries have not been able to achieve much in this regard.
In Afghanistan, as well, there are different types of sports that are played by the people in different parts of the country. Instability and disorder, however, influenced the growth of the sports in the country. Nonetheless, since the downfall of Taliban, efforts regarding the promotion of sports have intensified. And, there are certain games, in which Afghans have shown great talent and they have achieved international recognition. Among them Football, cricket and Taekwondo are the noteworthy ones.
Afghan football team won the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship 2013 for the first time by beating India. The cricket team on the other hand qualified for World Cup Cricket 2015 and it also qualified for T20 World Cup 2016 and even reached to the Super 10 round. Currently, Afghan cricket team returned home after winning 5 consecutive trophies at international level. Moreover, Afghan Taekwondo hero, Rohullah Nekpa, won bronze medal in 2012 Summer Olympics.
Keeping in mind the preparations and the facilities that the Afghan sportsmen get, it is really encouraging to see such great achievements by Afghan sportsmen. Afghan government requires doing more so as to facilitate different sportsmen in their respective fields. The sportsmen of the other countries enjoy all sorts of facilities that are required; therefore, they are able to show their distinction in different games.
On the other hand, our sportsmen also require support from the people. The love and support of the people fill the hearts of the players with motivation and determination and, therefore, they are able to perform at their best.
Our country is largely suffering from the influence of war, instability and disorder. The enemies of the nation have nothing else to offer except bloodshed and tyranny. The people are totally fed up of the situation and they want entertainment and amusement. And, they can achieve all these only through sports. Recently, it has been observed that what the politicians have not been able to achieve, what the sportsmen have been able to acquire. They have brought the down-trodden people of Afghanistan a ray of hope and a realization of the fact that the Afghans are capable of performing well in all fields of life. Politics has only brought rifts within the people and has divided them on ethnic lines, but the games have saved their unity and their honor.
It is really important for the authorities in Afghanistan to understand that the games and sportsmen have a higher role than just playing games; therefore, they should be given due attention and they should be provided with the facilities so that they are able to compete with other nations of the world. They have proved that having less facilities and opportunities they are able to perform very well, so if they are given facilities they will really polish their abilities and will be able to perform extraordinarily on international level.
If sports are promoted properly, they have the potential to divert the attentions of the people towards positive activities and will be able to keep them away from the social evils and International Day for Sports can be best used for this purpose. Though, one day will never be sufficient to raise the standard of sport in the country, it can definitely highlight some of the key issues and acquire the attention of policy makers.