Catching World Cup soccer fever, UN gives footballs to Afghanistan’s aspiring stars

21 June 2006

While the world’s top soccer players duel it out on the manicured playing fields of Germany in football’s World Cup, aspiring stars in Afghanistan are honing their skill on the dirt pitches of the violence-wracked country thanks to hundreds of footballs donated by staff of the United Nations mission there.

“Football is a universal game that we can all learn from,” Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Deputy Special Representative Chris Alexander said as he handed over the first few footballs to eager children at Amani High School in Kabul, the capital today.

“It can bridge social, cultural and religious divides. It teaches us the importance of unity, teamwork, and determination - vital qualities as we work together to rebuild Afghanistan. We hope these footballs will help bring the excitement of the world cup to Afghanistan and with it the positive impact football can have on people and communities.”

The footballs, made especially for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by disabled Afghans and paid for from staff donations, are being delivered to schools, orphanages and prisons across the country.

UNAMA’s staff football team was on hand at Amani to coach a new generation of aspiring stars.