• KABUL, AFGHANISTAN " A member of the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team flies through the air to break a board held by his teammate at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Through the Youth and Sports Outreach program, ISAF is working with the Afghan's to reach 68 percent of the Afghan population who is below the age of 30.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN " A member of the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team flies through the air to break a board held by his teammate at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN " U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, far left, of Tampa, Fla., watches a dramatization by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Through the Youth and Sports Outreach program, ISAF is working with the Afghan's to reach 68 percent of the Afghan population who are below the age of 30. Sports programs are a healthy alternative to youth, who may be at risk of being influenced by drug use or enemy insurgents.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN " U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, far left, of Tampa, Fla., watches a dramatization by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, left, of Tampa, Fla., shakes the hand of an Afghan girl following a demonstration by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Through the Youth and Sports Outreach program, ISAF is working with the Afghan's to reach 68 percent of the Afghan population who are below the age of 30.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, left, of Tampa, Fla., shakes the hand of an Afghan girl following a demonstration by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Sajad Sohrabzada, left, and Ahmad Walid, center right, practice their moves with a sparring match during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Sports programs are a healthy alternative to youth, like Sohrabzada and Walid, who may be at risk of being influenced by drug use or enemy insurgents.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Sajad Sohrabzada, left, and Ahmad Walid, center right, practice their moves with a sparring match during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Laila Houssaini, practices her Taekwondo kick during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 6 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Houssaini, 16, has been studying the sport since she was 4 years old and is determined to continue.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Laila Houssaini, practices her Taekwondo kick during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, left, of Tampa, Fla., shakes hands with Sajad Sohrabzada following a demonstration by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Through the Youth and Sports Outreach program, ISAF is working with the Afghan's to reach 68 percent of the Afghan population who are below the age of 30.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, left, of Tampa, Fla., shakes hands with Sajad Sohrabzada following a demonstration by the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Army Lt. Col. Terry Love, of Soperton, Ga., shows the members of the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team a group photo they will be given at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22, following a team demonstration. As the team chief for Sports and Youth Outreach in the ISAF Headquarters Traditional Communications office, Love helped to organize the event where the team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team. Sports programs are a healthy alternative to youth, who may be at risk of being influenced by drug use or enemy insurgents. Youth sports is not new to Love as he took an active role as a coach to his five children who participated in various athletic programs in the United States, including football, track and field and basketball.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "U.S. Army Lt. Col. Terry Love, of Soperton, Ga., shows the members of the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team a group photo they will be given at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct...

  • KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Sajad Sohrabzada, left, kicks at Ahmad Walid, center right, during a friendly sparring match during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22. The team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team, and the ISAF crowd loved it. Sports programs are a healthy alternative to youth, like Sohrabzada and Walid, who may be at risk of being influenced by drug use or enemy insurgents.

    Afghan youth Taekwondo team shows ISAF Kickin' good time

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN "Sajad Sohrabzada, left, kicks at Ahmad Walid, center right, during a friendly sparring match during a demonstration with the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team at the International Security Assistance Force...

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- From front to side, tornado to crescent, the kicks flew as the Afghanistan National Taekwondo Federation Junior Team put on a show at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters gym, Oct. 22.

With a crowd of ISAF servicemembers cheering them on, the team of 6 Afghan girls and 11 Afghan boys demonstrated their athletic abilities to kick, break boards and work as a team.

"It was a great demonstration of tremendous athletes, tremendous sportsmanship and young people that are doing important things for their country," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, of Tampa, Fla., who serves as the ISAF HQ deputy chief of staff for communications.

As the team chief for Sports and Youth Outreach in the ISAF Headquarters Traditional Communications office, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Terry Love, of Soperton, Ga., headed up the effort within ISAF to organize the event.

"This demonstration shows the partnership that exists between ISAF servicemembers and Afghanistan -- a long standing partnership," Love said. "This is all about building the capacity within the government of Afghanistan."

In a country where the age of youth ranges up to 30, they are considered crucial in building that governmental capacity.

"We understand that with youth and sports, if you compound that or make sure that's part of your outreach strategy, then you're reaching all of the population because in Afghanistan 68 percent of the population are considered youth," said Love.

According to Kabul native Samir Jaihoon, chief of the Afghan team's exhibition committee, these youth are responding.

"This is a very good opportunity that, day-by-day, we are having most kids come and say that they are really keen to come and do the sports instead of doing the wrong things or taking a gun in their hand and doing something wrong for the community," Jaihoon.

Instead, Afghan youth like Ahmad Walid and Saja Sohrabzada, who participated in a friendly sparring match during the demonstration, are honing their athletic abilities.

"The entire program was good, but the best part was the competition between the two of us," Walid said. "It was a competition between friendly combatants."

For Sohrabzada, the demonstration only deepened his desire to continue practicing Taekwondo.

"I hope that someday," said Sohrabzada, "I win a world competition and bring Afghanistan up in the world."

With or without a competition, 16-year-old Laila Houssaini, who has been practicing Taekwondo since she was 4, has no plans to quit.

"I want to go to the end," she said. "My favorite part is breaking the boards. It makes me feel strong."

That dedication and determination is nothing new to Love, a father of five who has coached youth sports, including track and field, basketball and football back in the U.S.

"All of my children are athletes and I played a lot of sports coming up in high school and college," Love said. "I love athletes, I love sports and I love working with youth."

With the help of the Afghan Junior Team, Love was able to share his appreciation with servicemembers throughout ISAF headquarters.

"This is a diplomacy effort," Love said. "This is not about one section--this is about all of ISAF understanding what we are doing because we are trying to reach out to Afghans."

Page last updated Mon October 24th, 2011 at 00:00