Kabul Sport and braving the traffic

20 06 2010

Obviously life in Kabul has its differences and being flexible about what this characterful capital offers has its benefits. 

Cricket at the Qala

Playing Frisbee at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, Winter 2010.

Getting involved in sport, something I couldn’t do without, varies month by month. When I arrived I’d heard about touch Rugby games and hash-harriers running through town but opted to play Frisbee because the fixtures were more reliable and 2 hours chasing a flying disc kept me fit without the post-match sessions. We’ve also played occasional football matches there with local kids. 

Playing football at Ghazi Stadium overlooked by one of Afghanistan's rulers

By mid August even playing late morning led to an afternoon spent rehydrating. Cloudy days and even rain are a welcome relief. We moved from high school pitch to high school pitch to Kabul’s main stadium, Ghazi as the police became less relaxed about our presence and the ‘administration fees’ became unreasonable.  ‘Ghazi’ means hero, celebrating the Shar’s victory over the British and some people never got over playing social sport on a pitch where public executions were held.  Anyway, at the beginning of the year we were moved off, apparently for maintenance. 

Skiing in the Salang Pass in March

TM’s very own ‘Fit Club’ has kept me in shape and also entertained the guards who took a beyond-cursory interest in the international girls who were brave enough to join us on the grass terraces. The UNICA compound in town has a squash court, a bit smaller than any I’ve played on, although the original land-owner has terminated the lease and sold it for $5m  This is a high price that may be difficult to recoup before development aid tails off along with its indirect revenue. The good news is that another organisation in Kabul has built another court, soon to be finished. The bad news is that they took the measurements from the UNICA squash court so this too involves a little less running around. 

We have a table-tennis table in the fort and the occasional cricket knock-about. A game is planned between Murad Khane and those who work in the Qala. 

The clay tennis courts at the International club are busy all evenings and weekend with terrace tables to enjoy a cold beer or meal while players sweat it out on court.

With the advent of summer I have moved on to tennis, something I was convinced I wasn’t very good at although a new racket, recently picked up in Dubai,  has helped. There are reasonable, if dusty clay courts and I play a couple of times a week with players of different abilities. At $7 an hour, the price of a (small) beer here, I can forget the grind, although not the dust, of Kabul. 

Meanwhile elsewhere in Kabul the guys at Skateistan are planning their own part in GoSkateboardingDay so this week’s Afghaniman has to be dedicated the kids who will be out skateboarding on the pothole-ridden streets tomorrow. 

Duncan DJ

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