The first-ever Afghan Refugees Cricket League has been created in Peshawar by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Afghan Commissionerate.
“Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan for almost 40 years and we want to promote a positive image through sports and such activities,” Afghan Commissioner Abbas Khan told SAMAA Digital.
Ten teams from several refugee camps are participating in the event. The province of KP has the most number of camps. The official number of registered Afghan refugees is 1.3 million but it is a safe guess that there are many more in Pakistan. History created circumstance in which the young people of Afghan origin find themselves caught in the politics of a region. This entire generation of children whose parents fled the war has grown up in Pakistan and knows no other home. The problem is that the perception of Afghan refugees is generally one-sided. They are by default categorized as terrorists, or terrorists in the making. Very little light is shed on their contribution to Pakistan’s economy.
The aim of these two authorities is therefore to channel some of the young talent into cricket and create a sense of ownership and pride in a sport that knows no borders in this region.
“Ten matches will be played in the tournament,” said Muhammad Naseeb, the head of Refugees Sports Community. “The teams are from Dir, Haripur, Mansehra, Bannu, Kohat, Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda.”
The young sportsmen said this would help them show off their talent. “This is a very good step for Afghan refugees,” said Jamal Nasir, one of the young cricketers. “Such events will give us a chance to showcase our talent.”
The coach, Allah Miankhail, is a firm believer in the power of sport to keep kids off the streets. “It’s a positive thing for the youngsters,” he said. “When there were no sports, our kids used to pick up bad habits.”