Thousands of Afghans attended the final match of Afghanistan’s Premier League (APL) on Friday evening with the hope that the country will achieve an enduring peace and that more of such events are held in Kabul and other cities.
The Afghanistan Football Federation stadium hosted thousands of spectators for the thrilling final match between Shaheen Asmayee and Simorgh Alborz football clubs. Football fans said they attend the event to demonstrate harmony and solidarity among the people and to reiterate their call for peace in war-hit Afghanistan.
Other participants said the big sport event proved that Afghanistan "will never go back."
“My message is that we should all come together and call for peace,” said Mohammad Haroon, a participant of the event.
“I am so excited to see people here together. I hope peace comes to the country,” said Shakoor, a participant of the event.
Hundreds of women attended the event who shouted the theme of the football league: one nation, one voice.
“We don't want to go back,” said Beheshta, a participant. “We want peace, and we don’t want to lose the achievements we have got with many hardships."
“Our participation at this event is because we want peace and all ethnic groups proved that the solution for each problem in the country is in our unity,” said Venus, a participant.
Afghan politicians, including First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Abdullah Abdullah head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani, also attended the event. Abdullah said Afghans want peace and that no group should prevent the people from their happy moments.
“Afghans demand peace and an end to the war and bloodshed and at this point, at least a significant reduction in violence so that the (peace) negotiations move forward in a peaceful environment. This is the message of all the people of Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.
“I am happy that I see smile on the faces of my countrymen,” Rahmani said.
President Ashraf Ghani sent his message to the event through a recorded video in which he said sports have strengthened harmony and togetherness in the country.
“On behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I congratulate the organizers, footballers and my dear people on holding the ninth season of Afghanistan’s Premier League,” Ghani said. “I thank the selected teams who have had colorful presence from different parts of the country.”
Ghani said that the Afghan youth are the role models of national unity and ambassadors of new Afghanistan “who have said no to war, violence and drugs.”
The calls for peace by Afghans come amidst an increase in violence in various parts of the country and amidst the ongoing peace negotiations in Doha.