Becoming a professional footballer in Kabul, as an American

"My mind was racing and I doubt much of what I said made sense. I was confused: I couldn’t grasp whether I was disappointed that I got caught going to Ghazi Stadium, or that I was juvenile enough to risk a job for football, or that I was in a position where one had to risk a job in order to play football."

Initially, New York-born Nick Pugliese traveled to the capital of Afghanistan with a singular focus: a job in telecommunications awaited, and while the allure of an overseas adventure was difficult to overlook, work was work, whether in the midst of a war-battered region or South New Jersey. 

As different as Nick found Kabul from his home town of Rochester, he quickly found a shared interest with his Afghan neighbors: football. Ingratiating himself into local pickup soccer games, Nick found an outlet; one that seemed fairly straight-forward: work, then pickup games. Work, and then passion.

But even the best laid plans are precarious, and Nick soon faced an unexpected opportunity: Ferozi FC, one of Afghanistan’s most successful football clubs, supplier of a number of players to the Afghan National Team, offered Nick a professional contract; a contract that came into direct conflict with his established career.

As Nick puts it, “What would you have said?”

Over at Nick’s blog, the aptly titled Nick Plays Football in Kabul, Nick is busy chronicling his time as a professional athlete in Afghanistan, detailing training sessions, trips to the city, and tournaments, amongst other things. It’s a fascinating story, and one that we’re definitely going to follow.

We’ll be checking in with Nick periodically, so be sure to head over to his site to get acquainted and share some AFR love. [Posted by Maxi]

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