Playing to a packed stadium in Kabul in the first match of the season, Shaheen Asmayee beat De Spinghar Bazan 4-3.
Thousands Pack Stadium As APL Tournament Kicks Off
Thousands of football fans from around the country packed the Afghan Football Federation Stadium on Thursday in Kabul for the opening ceremony of this year’s Afghan Premier League tournament.
Amid extremely tight security, politicians, celebrities and influential figures were among the spectators.
Many excited fans attending the ceremony said they believe the annual event strengthens unity among the people.
“The premier league has encouraged the youth to say no to drugs and embrace sport and lead a healthy life,” said Mohammad Yaqub, a resident of Kabul.
The people said they are excited when they see thousands of people together cheering on their favorite team and having a happy time.
“Really, it is very important that women can attend such events and watch the match from a close distance,” said Aisha, a school student.
“The women who come here become role models for other women in Afghanistan because Afghanistan is not owned only by men; their rights are equal,” said Seddiqa, another student.
All the female spectators cheered on their teams and mostly chanted for last year’s winner Kabul-based Shaheen Asmayee.
“I swear, I felt very happy as I see the women who can participate at this event and can watch the match from close,” said Parwin, a resident of Kabul.
The opening ceremony was followed by the first match of the season between last year’s winner Shaheen Asmayee and De Spinghar Bazan.
The match was fast-paced and had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Shaheen opened with a goal in the second minute and another goal in the 6th minute. By half time the score was 3-0 in Shaheen’s favor.
However, Bazan went on the attack after the break and scored two goals in close succession.
Shaheen then netted their fourth goal before Bazan scored their third.
The match ended 4-3 in Shaheen’s favor.
“This sport (football) should grow and more youth should come take part in this sport,” said Sediq Seddiqi, head of Government’s Media Information Center.
“The Afghan Premier League is a fundamental change in Afghanistan’s sports. It has taken sport to every home in Afghanistan,” said Baktash Siawash, former MP.
“Despite security threats, the coming together (of people) in a stadium, where hands and heads were chopped off two decades ago, indicates that our people are simply tired of war and crisis,” said Fawzia Kofi, an MP.
The tournament will continue for the next six weeks.