Afghans Play for Peace ahead of International Peace Day.

Kabul, Afghanistan (UNAMA, edited by UNOSDP) – International Peace Day, To mark the upcoming International Day of Peace on 21 September – which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year – Afghans around the country have been participating in a range of sporting events organized locally with the support of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Kicking off nearly a month of games meant to promote ideals of peace, solidarity and cooperation, the Bamyan Peace Day Football Tournament took place on September 5 in Mazari Square. The three-week-long tournament involves 24 teams from the villages around Bamyan city playing against each other, leading up to a championship match taking place today, the International Day of Peace.

 Speaking on behalf of Bamyan Provincial Governor Habiba Sarabi, Spokesman Abdul Rahman Ahmadi said, “The Provincial Government of Bamyan believes that sports can change the behavior of the young people of Bamyan as it gives them hope for a good future. Competing in sports puts them in a good position to compete for life and in a better situation in this life.”

In the eastern province of Lagham, young men and women kicked goals and spiked balls last week in a sports tournament organized by the Sub-Directorate of Youth. As well as football and volleyball events, other activities taking place included peace poetry, cricket matches, blood donations and a road clean-up campaign sponsored by UNAMA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Our village is totally isolated and we seldom get the chance to take part in such activities. I therefore appreciate the organizers for inviting us to participate in this tournament,” said Sayad Husain, 22, who travelled for 10 hours from his remote village in Alishang district to participate in this tournament. In Kandahar, cricket players dressed in blue and white t-shirts with the UN Peace Day logo went face-to-face to compete in a five-day T-20 cricket tournament supported by UNAMA.

“We participated in many tournaments in Kandahar and at the national level, however, this tournament is special because the purpose of this tournament is to raise awareness amongst youth about the importance of peace in one’s life,” said Nisar Ahmad Shahmsher, one of the cricket players. “Cricket is a very popular sport for youth in Kandahar. Normally, it keeps you fit and prevents you from indulging into drugs or any other related activities. My message to all the youth is to engage in sports in order to keep healthy and stay protected from illicit businesses,” said Mohammad Masoud, one of the players.

In the capital city of Nili, city mayor Azra Jaffari – the only female mayor in Afghanistan – gave the starting signal for the girl’s downhill run that took place as part of the Dai Kundi Peace Day Run and Celebration 2011. With nearly a hundred children – 20 of them girls – participating in the races, the Peace Day Run included three different categories, boys 7-10 years-old and 11-15 years old, and girls 7-10 years old. Prizes were awarded to all the girls who ran and to the five top runners in the boys’ groups.

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