State Dept. Spends $450K to Teach Afghan Women to Play Cricket
“Cricket is increasingly popular among Afghan women, but opportunities to participate in the sport are still rare. Women who play sports are powerful symbols of moderation, equality and progress,” the grant said. “Their participation in sports in public fora is a powerful visual that counters negative narratives about the role that women should play in Afghan society.”
The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan invited eligible organizations to submit proposals for the development, coordination, and implementation of a regional sports leadership exchange for female cricket players from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
About 15 participants from each of the three countries (consisting of players, coaches, staff, and chaperones as necessary) will take part in a week-long leadership and cricket skill-building exchange programs in each of the three countries.
“For each exchange week, the implementing partner will work closely with the hosting country to organize a program that includes professional cricket training, leadership and team-building activities, cultural excursions to familiarize guests with the host country, and friendly matches,” the grant said.
“On an individual level, participating in sports helps women feel empowered and teaches them the value of teamwork. It also gives them increased confidence, strength, and strategic thinking abilities they can use in all aspects of their lives,” it said.
Although India and Pakistan have “well-developed professional women’s cricket programs,” the exchange could greatly benefit Afghanistan as it develops its own cricket programs for women.
“A regional women’s cricket exchange between women cricket players from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India will build the skills of Afghan women as cricket players, demonstrate their role as equal members in Afghan society, increase Afghanistan’s capacity to provide opportunities for women to play cricket at the national and regional levels, and foster positive relationships between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India through sports,” the grant said.
The objectives for the leadership exchange are as follows:
- partnerships with the official cricket bodies and governments of each country involved
- cricket training and athletic development
- strategic thinking and team-building activities
- increased familiarization with host country culture
- social media
- outreach activities and traditional media engagement
- activities to build familiarity and sustain project momentum between exchanges
- safety, security, and outreach participation
Cricket players will take part in a week-long exchange three times a year.
“Proposals should describe what sort of activities will be planned to help the players become and stay familiar with each other before and in-between the exchanges and to familiarize them with the other cultures,” it said.
The grant calls for “a heavy social media aspect” to the exchange.
“Diverse social media tools such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, a dedicated website, and Instagram should be incorporated into the program to allow audiences in all three countries and around the world to learn more about the countries involved, cricket as a sport, and the women’s own experiences,” the grant said.
“Proposals must also address how the women’s safety, security and privacy will be handles,” the grant said. It should include a plan for how the women will take part in “photo opportunities, social media, and media interviews while still respecting cultural norms and expectations.”
The grant was announced on June 3, 2014, and the closing date for applications is July 3, 2014.
CNSNews.com contacted the State Department for comment regarding the grant, but no response was given by press time.