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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Football family helps Afghanistan
FA Ambassadors Lawrie McMenemy and Gary Mabbutt
Mabbutt and McMenemy took part in the FA initiative
World Football discovers how the British government and the English Football Association are proposing to restore football at the very heart of life in Afghanistan...

The British government and the English Football Association have joined forces to help Afghanistan rebuild football in the country.

The joint initiative reflects the English FA's vision of "using the power of football to build a better future".

The FA and British government hope that by using their resources, expertise and knowledge in co-operation with the German Football Association and the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), they can help restore the country's football infrastructure and use it as a blueprint for the wider reconstruction of the country.

Gerhard Schroeder and Franz Beckenbauer at the German Embassy in Kabul
Top German officials play their part in the project

In February 2002, at the request of the Ministry of Defence, the FA's David Davies led a delegation to Afghanistan in support of the symbolic 'Game of Unity' held in Kabul's Ghazi Olympic Stadium, which was the scene of some of the worst atrocities committed under the Taleban regime.

FA Ambassadors Lawrie McMenemy and Gary Mabbutt managed the Kabul United and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) teams.

"We had an experience in that country that we will never forget," said Davies. "It made a big impression on me.

"We recognise our responsibilities as a major football nation to pass on our experience to countries - as long as they want it - and to the wider football world.

"We hope to use the power of football within Afghanistan and around the world to bring people together in that country.

"I don't think people grasp that Afghanistan has had 22 years of virtually total war.

"Football has suffered there and if you go back to the 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan had a respectable football team and football tradition.

"The situation now is that the Germans and ourselves, along with the AFF, have almost a blank sheet of paper to try to, at the one level, reorganise football at the top level and then at grassroots level and to bring football to schools."

You can hear our Afghanistan special on World Football on this Saturday's show. Check local listings for broadcast times.

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