Afghanistan's Sports Sector Struggling: Report

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A survey by TOLOnews has found that sports in Afghanistan is in dire straits – mainly due to deep rifts and differences among members of sporting organizations and because of mismanagement of hundreds of thousands of Afs by the Directorate of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan.

TOLOnews correspondent Tamim Hamid says Afghan sportsmen and women train hard for international events but have very poor facilities, but that officials from sports organizations spend the money on revamping their offices and on their own facilities.

According to the survey, Afghanistan experienced a golden era in sports between 2006 and 2008, but between 2009 and 2011 sport in general experienced lots of ups and downs. It picked up again in 2012 when Afghanistan recorded a number of achievements.

However, this sector’s situation took a dive in 2014 and 2015, when little achievement was recorded.

Rohullah Nekpa, national taekwondo athlete, was the only medal winner for Afghanistan at the 2012 Olympic Games in Beijing.

He quit the sport but this year he will carry the Afghan flag at Friday’s opening ceremony at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

He said rifts between sporting organizations pushed him away from taekwondo for a year, which resulted in him losing out on the chance to participate at this year’s Games.

“I did train, but I could not find the calmness and the mental relaxation that I needed. I could not control emotions and my mind,” Nekpa said.

But sporting officials have said that sports organizations are merely offices without authority.

“As the head of the National Olympic Committee, all my authority was to kiss the face of athletes [after they clinched a victory]. I do not have any other authority, because the committee is not included in the [national] budget. The positions are not state-owned,” said the head of the National Olympic Committee, Zahir Aghbar.

The Directorate of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan said they do not accept Zahir Aghbar as the legal head of the Olympic Committee; therefore, the budget, which is allocated by government to the organization, is not paid over.

“The problem that we face is that I have to defend Afghanistan’s laws, government, its dignity and identity. This is my mission. As far as it is an issue that relates to Mr. Aghbar, I will stand against anyone,” said Humayun Khairi, director general for the Directorate of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan.

TOLOnews’ findings show that the Directorate of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan has made a number of procurements at a huge cost.

The organization spent 4.8 million Afghanis to hire an armored vehicle for two months, it purchased two carpets for the head office which cost 345,824 Afghanis and it spent 396,000 Afghanis on food for a program.

One of the documents obtained by TOLOnews mentions that 81,700 Afghanis was paid to repair a Corolla vehicle related to the organization, but when the reporter went to the repair workshop, they said the bill had totaled only 44,380 Afghanis.

According to another document, 153,000 Afghanis was allocated for purchasing three copy machines but the actual price for the three machines was 65,000 Afghanis.

He added: “The Afghan sports (sector) should be strongly supported, particularly in the current situation, but considering the administrative issues, I have a very weak and low capacity administration under my leadership.”

TOLOnews findings also shows that the main figures of the National Unity Government have a hand in the rifts between sports organizations.

According to the tasks assigned by President Ashraf Ghani, the first Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is responsible to assess sports issues.

But according to reports, Khairi is one of Dostum’s close aides.

Meanwhile, Zahir Aghbar is supported by the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. But despite this, the survey by TOLOnews found that rivalry among senior government officials has badly affected athletes and sport in the country.

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