A vast majority of the Afghan population is under 25. (Getty Images)
New Afghan NOC president Fahim Hashimy will make sports participation by women and young people a priority as part of an administration built on trust and transparency.
Calling his election a “historic day” for Afghan sports, Hashimy mentioned the many key steps leading up to this point, including the national Olympic committee’s separation from the national sports directory, the adoption of a charter based on the IOC’s own, and an election he calls “very, very transparent.”
Hashimy’s enthusiasm for the post is clear as he tells Around the Rings
of his desire “to change involvement, to make [the NOC] democratic, to make the federations autonomous, and to give them the opportunity to think and grow.”
“This was like a closed box in the past,” Hashimy says of the NOC. “People didn’t know what was going on in the NOC. It did not communicate much with people. It was very difficult to get into it.
"Now, it’s going to be very open. We’re going to be talking to people. We’re going to be communicating to them through media. We’re going to be talking to them face to face.”
A group of young Afghan men gathers to watch the 2012 Olympics. (Getty Images)
Prior to now, the NOC “was always managed by ex-warlords and gunmen,” says Hashimy.
“They had been living under a dictatorship. They did not believe in their own rights. They did not believe they could come out and vote. They thought they were going to be killed by the opponent if they voted.”
Hashimy has had to emphasize independence to voters.
“I spend half of my day every day trying to keep their morale high.”
Beyond raising the mood, the president’s vision for the new era of the NOC includes increased involvement for women and young people.
“Culturally, women have to trust us to come and participate in the sports,” Hashimy tells ATR
. “Then, we’re going to also have to be talking to many different organizations here in Afghanistan to encourage the participation of women in sports."
Rohullah Nikpai was celebrated with a parade in Kabul after winning bronze in taekwondo at the 2012 Games. (Getty Images)
The NOC has already demonstrated its commitment to women's sports by electing a female vice president, Sedeqah Nurestani, who was elected last month along with Hashimy.
Meanwhile, in a country as young as Afghanistan, youth sports development will get plenty of attention as well. Hashimy, 33, says his age gives him a strong connection to the country’s young people.
“I can see that the great reactions from youth groups already.”
The president says 73% of Afghans are under 25, allowing them to look within for the next wave of great athletes.
“We need to build this talent pool. The youth are our future.”
Written by Nick Devlin
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