From Our Correspondent
SHILLONG, feb 9: There are times when participating is more important than winning. This is exactly true for the war-torn Afghanistan which has sent a small 30-member contingent to India for the 12th South Asian Games.
Three male and two female members comprise the Afghan badminton squad, which also has a coach and an official.
Afghan shuttler Said Md Kabir Mirzad, who spoke on behalf of his coach who does not speak English, said that for him and his teammates participating in an event of the magnitude of South Asian Games meant a lot. The event offered them an exposure otherwise iccessible to them.
Afghanistan had a tough draw in the men's team event in which they were pitted against the mighty Indians and Bangladesh. In the women's team event they had to face Nepal and Maldives, and even though they are yet to win a game, they will surely have a lot to take back from the outings by the end of the competition, feels Mirzad .
“We don't have proper facilities back home, not even a proper place to play. Without expert trainers, we learn or take up skills from the youtube, said Mirzad who was hopeful that things will change for the better in his country.
In a country which has taboo over women taking to sports, Afghanistan boasts of two female shuttlers in their ranks.
Zaiwab Yari and Lidaa Saraj are the face of hope in an Afghan society torn by decades of strife.
“It's difficult for females to take to sports in our country, but luckily there are certain pockets where things are a bit better and that's where we thrive,” said the young Afghan shuttler.
The Afghan badminton team was also happy to rub shoulders with their famed Indian counterparts and they say these are experiences and memories they would cherish for a long time to come.