American Forces Press Service
Oct. 23, 2007 - Afghan national security forces planned and secured the 3rd Annual Chamkani Peace Games in the Chamkani district of Afghanistan's Paktia province in mid-October, where 45 sports teams participated in events that included soccer, cricket and volleyball. "The Peace Games are very important for the mindset of the youth involved," a local Afghan elder said. "It is important for our children to learn how to compete without killing each other. This is a great day for all of Afghanistan."
The coalition-trained Afghan forces took charge and worked with local leaders and several youth groups to leverage resources. The event went off without incident.
"This is a true indication of progress by the (Afghan national security forces) in securing the region and increasing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's legitimacy," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.
The atmosphere at the peace games was positive and energetic, among competitors and spectators alike. A spectator from Bagyar expressed his gratitude for the recreational outlet. Another spectator was holding an Afghan flag and said, "I can't wait to play in next year's Peace Games."
The Peace Games are held annually for youth throughout the province so they can face each other in friendly competition. This year's games included volleyball for the first time. Local leaders plan to add more events in the coming years.
"One of the main goals is to build a sense of unity and a sense of national pride," Belcher said. "It is also an opportunity for everyone to observe a more peaceful side of the Afghan society and to witness the (government) providing a positive service for the Afghan people."
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)