Germany has sanctioned financial assistance of € 700,000 for Afghanistan for the construction of a cricket stadium in the eastern Khost province.
The money is a part of an agreement struck with German associations based in Kabul. There is already a multi-purpose sports facility in Khost, built with financial support from the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee in 2011. The new cricket stadium will be a boost for the region, where cricket has become immensely popular after Afghanistan's showing in the Asia Cup and the World T20.
Khost is a mountainous region near Pakistan border, with North Waziristan in FATA and Bannu as neighbors. The stadium is being constructed on 25 acres of land with a capacity of 6000 people.
The stadium, once completed, will be the fourth major cricket facility in the country. Earlier this year the Indian government had approved a grant of $1 million for the construction of a stadium in the southern province of Kandahar. The funding was provided under the Indian government's Small Development Project Scheme.
"We are grateful to both India and Germany for their support," Afghanistan Cricket Board chairman Shahzada Masoud told AFP at the Asian Games. "But what we want now is for teams like India to come any play on our grounds. It would have been so exciting if Sachin Tendulkar had come and played in our country. I hope Mahendra Singh Dhoni can make it."
Afghanistan had qualified for the 2015 World Cup last year. They received $1 million from the ICC to help prepare for the tournament, in addition to the $422,000 awarded in April 2013 as part of the ICC's Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme. This year the top Associate and Affiliate Members - including Afghanistan - received approximately $750,000 through the ICC Development Funding Policy.
Masoud also called on other cricketing nations to tour Afghanistan, insisting it is safe and has world-class facilities boosted by foreign money. "I am telling the players to come to my country and play there, they will treasure those memories forever," he said. "We want support from other nations. We had lots of problems in the last 30 years because of the uncertain security situation, but that needs to be erased from our minds and heart now.
"Because sport unites people. Cricket is one of our favourite sports. You get 20,000-30,000 people watching our local league matches. The security is good, especially for cricketers. We have achieved a lot in a short time, I don't think anyone expected us to get this far. The future of cricket is bright in our country. It is played in 32 of our 34 provinces. And matches are shown on local television."