News story

FA and Premier League launch historic Afghan football partnership

David Cameron visits troops serving in Afghanistan and announces new Afghan football partnership.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

David Cameron shakes hands with British army personnel and a member of an Afghan football team.

The Prime Minister has today announced an exciting new partnership between The FA, Premier League and their Afghan counterparts to support the growth and development of Afghan football and the benefits it brings to communities across Afghanistan.

During a trip to meet troops currently serving in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister was joined by FA Ambassador Michael Owen and representatives from the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) and Afghan Premier League (APL) to see British and ANA troops enjoying a football session together and hear about the incredible impact football has already had in rebuilding communities across Afghanistan. In recent years Afghan sport has demonstrated it can be a powerful force for good and has helped to create a sense of national unity across the country.

David Cameron meeting troops in Camp Bastion.

The new partnership will support all levels of Afghan football, from grassroots, through the Afghan Premier League and up to the Afghan national team. It will also include support for women’s and youth football. At its heart will be a partnership between The FA, the English Premier League, The Afghan Football Federation (AFF) and the Afghan Premier League (APL). Together they will work to build Afghan capacity in football administration, training and education for the national and grassroots game.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said:

We often think of sport as just about a competition where you are either a winner or a loser but it also has an amazing power to bring people together and unite communities for the benefit of all involved.

That’s exactly what is happening with football in Afghanistan. The team’s victory in the South Asia Cup captured the imagination of millions and brought together Afghans of all ages, communities and beliefs demonstrating to the rest of the world the spirit of the Afghan people and the potential of this country as a whole.

I’m proud that we are building on this to broaden our relationship with Afghanistan. This fantastic partnership between English and Afghan football organisations promises to develop Afghan football at every level and demonstrates our steadfast commitment to help build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan not just on the battlefield but on the pitch too. I look forward to seeing this co-operation inspire future generations from the national team to Afghan school girls.

David Cameron and Michael Owen at Camp Bastion

Under the agreement The FA will provide:

  • an invitation for members of the Afghan national side to meet and train with English national teams and coaches at St George’s Park, share experience of international team development, tournament preparation and planning
  • a full assessment of grassroots football in Afghanistan and, alongside the AFF, the production of a development plan to improve capacity and potential in areas including grassroots administration; schools and youth football; women and girls football and referee development - the FA will support the AFF throughout their delivery of this plan
  • in partnership with the AFF, the Asian Football Confederation, UEFA and others the delivery of training in support of this plan, including mentoring for coaches and volunteers through a range of FA Awards - programmes will be delivered with the support of FA Ambassadors including former England players, coaches and current players from the FA Women’s Super League

Alongside this the English Premier League will build on its existing relationships with Afghan football and provide:

  • an expansion of the EPL and British Council’s Premier Skills programme, which provides training for community football coaches
  • Premier Skills training for local match officials provided by highly qualified English referees
  • opportunities to share experience and for the EPL to advise on league development, organising competitions, marketing and broadcasting; this programme will bring together experts from the English Premier League and its member clubs with officials from Afghan Premier League clubs

An FA spokesperson said:

Afghan football is already growing and making its presence felt right across the country and the region. Our Afghan friends have a high level of ambition targeting qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. With English football committed to continuing engagement, let’s hope we can see the Lions of Afghanistan in the same competition as the Three Lions of England.

Secretary General of the Afghan Football Federation, Ali Aghazada, said:

The UK is the mother of football and has some of the most successful teams in the world. This is exactly the sort of support we need to help us achieve our goal of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. It’s an ambitious goal, but over the last two years our athletes have demonstrated that Afghanistan has what it takes to win.

Published 16 December 2013