Panjshir hosts martial arts sports festival in the valley
A Tae-Kwon Do stylist demonstrates a board-breaking kick. The demonstration was part of a sports day festival, held at the governor's compound, July 16, showcasing martial arts, which is now being taught in the valley. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeffery P. Kelly, Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan- Muscles tensed, kicks and punches were thrown, and boards were broken as Panjshir governor, Haji Bahlol, the president of the International Olympic Committee of Afghanistan, Zamir Ogbar, and representatives of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team watched in amazement.

After a meeting at the governor's compound to introduce the team's new Department of State representative and PRT director, James DeHart, the group attended a martial arts sports day festival, July 16.

Just a few short years ago, such a sight in the valley would not be seen. But, due to the advances in security, health care, education, road construction and inroads toward economic prosperity, the citizens of Panjshir are now able to participate in organized sports.

"This sports festival is a testament to how much progress has been made in such a short time," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric W. Hommel, commander, Panjshir PRT.

"Through cooperation, the legitimate provincial government of Panjshir and international supporting organizations have made it possible for the youth of the valley to begin to enjoy the benefits of sports programs. It's great to see the common language of sport uniting Afghans," Hommel said.
Bahlol agreed that sports were important to youth development and indicated that now was the right time to introduce sports projects and programs into the valley.
To date, the government of Panjshir, working in conjunction with the PRT, has provided the valley with 21 school projects, 16 energy projects, 12 public health clinics, five agricultural irrigation canals, four communications projects, four justice center projects and 26 bridge and road projects spanning 136 kilometers.
"The provincial government is working very hard to increase Panjshiri's quality of life, and the PRT is proud to be a part of it all," said Hommel.

Page last updated Wed July 22nd, 2009 at 04:22