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Martial Arts in Afghanistan is a welcome distraction to the Violence besetting the Country

Presently, only men have competed in the handful of competitions, but organizers say they are training women fighters. The walls of the club feature posters of American martial arts competitor Ronda Rousey.

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Afghan competitors fight during a mixed martial arts match in Kabul, Afghanistan, VOA

In a custom-built arena in Kabul, crowds cheered as young Afghan men punched, kicked and wrestled in the country’s first professional mixed martial arts league, a welcome distraction to the violence besetting the country.

While cricket and football more commonly grab public attention in Afghanistan, fighters and fans see martial arts not just as entertainment but as a constructive pastime for youths in a country torn by war and economic malaise.

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Against a soundtrack of booming music and shouts of encouragement, sweat, and blood mixed inside the cage. Each match, however, ended in a hug.

Fighters and team members prepare backstage before matches of a mixed martial arts competition in Kabul, Afghanistan, VOA

Outlet for frustration

“I think it provides a very good platform for the social frustrations that we have here in Afghanistan,” said Kakal Noristani, who a year and a half ago helped found the Snow Leopard Fighting Championship.

To date, only men have competed in the handful of competitions, but organizers say they are training women fighters. The walls of the club feature posters of American martial arts competitor Ronda Rousey.

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Noristani and his partners want to develop mixed martial arts as a professional sport in Afghanistan, hoping to host foreign fighters and send Afghan competitors abroad.

“We’ve just begun here in Afghanistan,” Noristani said. “The professional structure was nonexistent before this.”

That’s helped some fighters dream of national and international glory.

“This is the wish of every fighter: To reach the highest level and be able to fight abroad,” said Mir Baba Nadery, who won his match that night.

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Diversion from the war

Outside the cage, spectators expressed gratitude for a diversion from the country’s woes.

“Coming to these kinds of events takes your mind off of our problems,” said Nadia Sina. “We are happy to see such an organization encouraging sportsmen and improving the sport in the country.” (VOA)

Next Story

Afghanistan Initiates Polio Drive, Targets 8.5mn Kids

The campaign is launched in most of the places in Afghanistan where limited children were reached earlier in the year

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Afghan health authorities on launched sub-national immunization campaign to give polio immunity vaccination dose to 8.5 million children under five years old. Pixabay

Afghan health authorities on Monday launched an extended sub-national immunization campaign to give polio immunity vaccination dose to 8.5 million children under five years old.

“The five-day campaign targets over 8.5 million children under 5 years of age in 324 districts across the country. The campaign is launched in most of the places where limited children were reached earlier in the year,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry of Public Health as saying.

“We are concerned that following the long pause in polio vaccination in parts of the country, more children have become vulnerable to poliovirus, therefore it is of paramount importance that we vaccinate those who have been missing out,” it added.

The Ministry called on the parents to protect their children against polio by letting the vaccinators get in when they come knocking on the doors.

Polio
The five-day campaign in Afghanistan targets over 8.5 million children against Polio under 5 years of age in 324 districts across the country. Pixabay

The ongoing insurgency and conflicts have been hindering the efforts to curb the infectious disease in the mountainous country as 1.2 million children from inaccessible areas have missed previous drives.

READ MORE: PM Modi Stooped Down to Lift Environmental Awareness

There are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are still reported. (IANS)