Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meanwhile the CF are helping Kandaharis to play...

...a beautiful game:
KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan - Violence, poverty and myriad forms of serious crime plague this city, among the world's most dangerous, but there is one means of escape that doesn't involve AK-47s or drugs: the beautiful game.

Soccer is resurgent in Kandahar, thanks to an assist from Canadian soldiers and philanthropists back home.

Soccer balls-5,000 of them, paid for in Canada and shipped here recently from Pakistan - are kicking around everywhere, and putting smiles on faces too often plastered with grief...

People here never quit the game, but for years they played under difficult, if not impossible, circumstances. Secretly, sometimes.

Equipment was scarce; so were playing fields. But the biggest problem was politics and a perverse take on religion. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, its theocratic leadership issued directives from an armed camp in Kandahar. Preposterous rules were applied to many activities, including the game. Girls were forbidden to play. Males also faced severe restrictions.

They were not to wear pants hemmed above their knees. Players in violation of this dress code were subject to arrest and humiliation by Taliban agents. A visiting squad from Pakistan once violated the knee ban: The players' heads were shaved clean.

Unbridled expressions of joy on the pitch - after, say, a pretty goal - were frowned upon. Play was confined to certain areas. And kicking a ball after four p.m., anywhere, was expressly forbidden...
But trust a Canadian reporter to play up the dark side:
None of his players look back on those days with fondness or nostalgia, says Breshna's gregarious coach, Aman Kamran. But the general situation in today's Kandahar may be even worse.

Unemployment, a lack of security and basic services, and rising discontent all spell gloom.

It's a sad thing, he says, when his players "have kind of accepted this way of life. It's been going on for 30 years. It's not a new phenomenon."

A native of Kandahar, Kamran worked for years in New York and became an American citizen. He returned to Kandahar a few years ago, expecting to build a thriving business and something like a normal life. That hasn't happened...
There is a bright note buried in the final sentence:
Kamran blew his whistle. His players formed a cluster. Time for knee bends and more stretching. "Look at their faces," says Kamran. "You see? They are smiling. But underneath I know there are frustrations."
They aren't world-beaters, but Kamran says the players inspire him.

"They have hard lives. Just getting out to practice can be dangerous.

But, they're here. It says something about the guts of these people.

They still have spirit. And they won't surrender to terrorism [emphasis added]."


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

"But trust a Canadian reporter to play up the dark side:"

Not just Canadian "journalists", Mark. That unfortunately seems to be another shared characteristic of "Western Culture", Anglophone and non-Anglophone. The West's Citizenry are "informed" by a generally Leftist-biased MSM that denies it's biased.

It's work, investing time and thought in being what Western Democracy calls for, an informed Citizen. A person must go to much trouble, spending an hour or two a day: watching TV, doing a lot of reading at various and sundry news sites all over the world. Sifting for facts, correlating multiple interpretations of the same news story. Going to excellent blogs like this one, where news is reported and freely commented upon by people with the background to do so intelligently, is invaluable.

The person who watches a half-hour TV nightly news broadcast and thinks himself well-informed is, to put it mildly, sadly mistaken.

We can all take this satisfaction. The thinking people who take this trouble and actually contribute to the Internet are making a difference.

Just a couple of significant examples: the CBS/Dan Rather forged documents scandal in 2004 (just before the election) was uncovered and blown out of the water by such folks. The Reuters Fauxtography scandal in 2007 was also uncovered and blown in this manner.

Webloggers and informed people contributing their knowledge are making it harder and harder for the professional liars, both in the MSM and politicians. And that's a good thing for us all!

1:42 a.m., February 24, 2008  

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