It all started with the Maidan-e-Sabz (green field), a reality show aimed at uncovering footballing talents throughout Afghanistan for an upcoming national football league.
Afghan football had always suffered from the absence of a quality football league in the country. So when Saad Mohseni, a popular business tycoon in Afghanistan, came up with the idea of the Afghan Premier League last year, it was met with tremendous anticipation in the country.
The Maidan-e-Sabz was the first step towards the league’s formation. Players were voted into teams by a jury and the audience. Keeping in mind the intense rivalries between different provinces of the country, eight teams were formed from the different zones of Afghanistan to take part. Once the selection of players by the teams was completed, the league kicked off in September 2012, with every participating team having an 18 player squad.
The league itself received an overwhelmingly positive response from the country’s football fraternity. Once the Roshan Afghan Premier League got underway, soaps and serials were replaced by APL games in Afghan bedrooms.
Over the course of the season, the APL helped convert animosities between different provinces into friendly rivalries. The Greater Kabul region was represented by Shaheen Asmayee FC, while Toofan Harirod FC participated under the banner of the western region. The central and North Western regions were represented by Oqaban Hindukush FC and Simorgh Alborz FC, respectively.
De Abasin Sape FC flew the flags of the South Eastern region, whereas De Spin Ghar Bazan FC hailed from the Southern region. The other two teams, Mawjhai Amu FC and De Maiwand Atalan FC, were from the North Eastern and South West region, respectively.
Toofan Harirod FC and Simorgh Alborz FC stamped their authority over the league in the beginning phases of the season. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when both these sides reached the final of the APL. Cheered on by thousands of supporters, and attended by many important officials from the country, the final match of the tournament produced a gripping encounter between the two sides.
It was Toofan Harirod FC who were able to edge past Simorgh Alborz 2-1 in a close final. It was quite a thrilling end to a season that has been able to initiate a new beginning for Afghan football.
The second season of the Roshan Afghan Premier League is scheduled for the later part of this year, and is already eagerly awaited by the football fans in the country.
The Afghan High Peace Council has praised the league’s formation and has described it as an opportunity to bring back peace to the Asian nation.
In its first season itself, the APL has brought to the fore the Afghans’ love for the beautiful game. In a country ravaged by wars, football has been a unifying force for the Afghans.
Big plans are being made for the second edition of the APL, which will hopefully turn out to be even better than the first one.
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