UEFA to help promote football in Afghanistan
KABUL (PAN): Praising Afghan players for keeping football alive through decades of war, UEFA President Michel Platini on Sunday vowed to help promote the sport grow in the resource-deficient conflict-devastated country.
Platini's visit to Kabul on Saturday comes amid a nationwide surge in interest in football after the national shocked India 2-0 in the final of the South Asian Football Federation championship earlier this month in Nepal.
The 58-year-old former French international, Plantini, also met President Hamid Karzai. "We are ready to help," the vice-president of FIFA promised young players at the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) ground.
"We are not allowed to give money, but we can help you at the grassroots level and with many programmes that we can do, and we will be very proud to help Afghanistan.
"I've just seen young players play football with some girls, that is very nice, that is my pleasure. When I see that I'm very happy."
As Afghanistan won the country’s first international trophy in the sport, the nation burst into celebrations, with happy crowds pouring onto the streets to mark the occasion; guns were fired into the air
"They have won matches despite the insecurity, so they have continued to play football during some difficult moments," Platini said. "It is for that that I respect them a lot."
At the head of a delegation, Plantini arrived in Afghanistan at the invitation of the Afghanistan Football Federation.
He said they would help Afghanistan regarding train coaches and mentors by conducting short-term and long-term courses.
Danesh Morteza, spokesman for the AFF, said that other football stars should follow in the footsteps of Platini and David Beckham, who visited British troops in Helmand province in 2010.
"Football has risen to such a peak that Mr. Platini has come to Afghanistan, and his visit shows that we have good security here," he said.
Afghanistan Football Federation chief Kiramuddin Karim his federation was struggling to make further strong the side through domestic games and selecting best players over the next 10 years, when football stadiums would be established across the country.
Meanwhile, the President Palace said UEFA delegation held a meeting with President Hamid Karzai on Sunday. In a statement, the presidential palace said Platini and UEFA general secretary Ali Khan Mohammadov vowed UEFA’s support for Afghanistan’s football team.
The delegation congratulated President Hamid Karzai and his nation on Afghanistan’s victory over India in the South Asian Football Federation championship.
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