the “International Day of Sport for Development and Peace” on 6 April was established by the UN General Assembly in 2013. The day recognises the positive influence that sport can have on the advancement of human rights, and social and economic development.
On the same day, the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Facebook page reached 200,000 fans. This is a striking achievement in a country with low computer literacy and internet access.
In this statement for the day, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, said: “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.”
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has long recognised the potential sport and, in particular, cricket has to be a force for change in Afghanistan. In its Strategic Plan developed in 2010, the ACB described its vision as “to make cricket Afghanistan’s most popular sport, contributing to peace, unity and development.”
Two weeks ago the Afghanistan National Cricket Team was awarded the prestigious Laureus Sports Award in the `Spirit of Sport` category. Afghanistan was recognised not only for its remarkable success over the past 12 years, but also for the contribution cricket is making to national unity and pride.
Cricket has become Afghanistan’s biggest peaceful movement and largest movement of young people who make up around 70% of the population.
Former Chairman of the ACB and current Afghan Minister of Finance, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, recognised the contribution of the game: “Cricket is bringing people together in a way which nothing else has. It is bringing peace in our country. The youth are drawn away from hostilities by cricket. Today they watch, tomorrow they will play. The message is that with determination and with a cause, youngsters, who've gone through difficult times, can train and have big dreams.”
“Cricket is uniting the nation and is sending a positive message to the youth, so cricket is proving to be much more than the game.”