The crowd that gathered on Friday night at Afghanistan’s Football Federation stadium to watch the final match of the Afghan Premier League (APL) was the first of its kind in over 30 years in Afghanistan.
Despite security threats, a crowd of 10,000 people gathered at the stadium to watch the final match between Shaheen Asmayee and De Maiwand Atalan.
People from different ethnic groups stood shoulder to shoulder to watch the match, and together tension was put aside and everyone cheered for their favorite team.
Among the spectators were political figures and government officials who had also come to watch the match.
“Today’s scene that you see here is the scene of a new Afghanistan. I always have said that Afghanistan has two faces, this is its real face,” Afghan ambassador to Italy Wahid Omar said.
“This gives us hope. I have come here to watch this interesting match,” Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said.
Not only did men come out in droves to watch the match but dozens of women also joined in the fun.
“I am very sad for those people, those who do not let us grow and develop. I felt happy when I came here and saw the youths being happy and excited,” Zuhal, a Kabul resident said.
Among the girls and women attending was an 80 year old woman who said although she was slightly deaf she wanted to experience the moment and share in the fun.
“Shaheen will win, Shaheen has scored two goals …. I will be happy if it nets two other goals,” the 80 year old woman Bibi Gul said.
At the end, Shaheen Asmayee beat De Maiwand Atalan, but the joy among the people remains.
“I feel this happiness in my skin and bones. In today’s match two teams played, but it had one winner and that was Afghanistan,” Farhad Darya, a singer said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also watched the match on television.
“Yesterday’s match was not an ordinary match. It was a model of the nation’s will that the people will never kneel to threats,” said Ghani.
Afghanistan’s Premier League (APL) was established six years ago. At the time people did not think that it would become such a big event. Today however APL has created hope among the people that changes will happen, such changes that will be followed by peace and prosperity.