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Afghanistan: Sowing the seeds Published: 20 September 2012

While most of Afghanistan's current first team learned their cricket in Pakistani refugee camps, MCC is helping introduce the game to a new generation inside the country.

The emergence of Afghanistan as one of the strongest Associate Member sides in the game has been the sports most life affirming fairytale in recent years - so much so that the presence of the team built by refugees from the camps of Pakistan at this year's ICC World Twenty20 seems almost routine.

From the moment Hamid Hassan dismissed Mike Gatting for a duck in MCC's fixture against an Afghan team touring India back in 2006, the Club has been tied to the country.

Five years later, as England prepare to stave off one of the great upsets and send the young upstarts packing early for a second successive tournament, MCC is still playing a major role in Afghanistan.

Together with charity Afghan Connection - run by the inspirational Dr Sarah Fane -, and with funding from the MCC Foundation the Club organises Spirit of Cricket coaching camps throughout the country, for both girls and boys.

While the current generation of the Afghanistan side learned their cricket in the refugee camps across the border, MCC is hopeful that future teams will have had their introduction to the game within the country, as 80,000 youngsters already have.

Nawroz Mangal, the current captain of the national team, believes that, with continued success at the highest level, 30-40% of the country's 30million inhabitants will start playing cricket.

While there is a long, long way to go, MCC is determined to play its small part in continuing to allow the sport to blossom.

Timeline: MCC in Afghanistan

  • 2006- an MCC touring side, captained by Mike Gatting, lost in an inaugural match between the two sides in Mumbai.
  • 2007- Fast bowler Hamid Hassan and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi spend time at Lord’s as MCC Young Cricketers, and former England all-rounder and MCC Committee Member, Matthew Fleming, went on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan to investigate how MCC could strengthen its links with cricket in Afghanistan.
  • 2008- MCC teamed up with the Afghan Connection* charity in a bid to develop grassroots cricket across the nation, under the MCC Spirit of Cricket banner. Afghan Connection was set up in 2002 and aims to bring hope and opportunity to a generation of young people in Afghanistan through health, education and sport.
  • 2010- Afghan Connection was nominated in the Non-Governmental Organisation for Peace category at the prestigious international Peace and Sport Awards in Monaco.
  • 2011- Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi play for MCC in the Champion County fixture against Nottinghamshire CCC in 2011.
  • 2012- Plans are in place to build further pitches & deliver more training camps – all under the MCC Spirit of Cricket banner and funded by the MCC Foundation.

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