Todd Sullivan's Letters From Kabul

Round three from the “Biggest Fire Fan in Afghanistan."

Interesting that the New York Red
Bulls made such an early exit from the MLS playoffs – they were my pick this
year.  There was certainly a lot of cash dropped on the team for them to
be booted in the first round!

I am looking forward to the draft
in mid January, there are a lot of talented college players in the US this year
as well as some international players, such as Omar Salgado, an under-20 player
from Mexico. 

I feel bad for calling out Maurice
Edu in my last blog – the American midfielder for the Glasgow Rangers is
sidelined now from a knee injury – here’s hoping that he laces up and takes the
field again soon!

International news around the
sport is making for pretty good reading these days.  First we have the
2022 World Cup bids going on, which the USA seemed to be posed rather well to
host.  Then out of nowhere comes a seemingly strong bid from Qatar. 
I’ve been to Qatar, a very small nation in the Persian Gulf that really only
has one major city, Doha.  If Qatar wrestles this opportunity away from
the US, pack light – it is HOT there! 

Secondly, I am having a hard time
believing that the USA Women’s team is fighting to advance into the World Cup. 
The perennial powerhouse team is one loss away from missing the big show.
  I am hopeful that they will be able to defeat Italy in the playoff
to advance.  Of course, they will be without Hope Solo minding the net due
to injury…go USA!

I want to share news on a very
important soccer game that no one is talking about – a women’s match that was
played less than a mile from my camp here in Kabul. The game was played
between the Afghanistan Women’s Team and a team of coalition women from the
major NATO base here in Kabul.  

The two teams had met on the field
a week prior for a scrimmage and to get to know one another, showing the true
sporting spirit of the game. On game day, the Afghan women wore new
uniforms, they are sponsored by Hummel who has offered a five-year commitment
to the team. 

The women on the Afghan team are
actually taking a risk to just play soccer, and even more risk by playing
coalition on a NATO base.  There is a lot of pride amongst these women who
would never have had a chance had it not been for the coalition forces pushing
the Taliban out of power.

The Afghan women were victorious
in this game, beating the coalition women 1 – 0.  However, I think that
they were victorious for taking the field, for chasing a dream that we
Americans take for granted, for breaking out of the old and moving into a new

 A lot is going on in
Afghanistan, the National Police force that I am working to help develop is
making big gains, they are recruiting record numbers and they are now keeping
more and more of the new police.  Attrition has plagued them for years,
however, they are bringing in a lot of new leaders who show genuine care for
their police system. 

The Afghans are getting ready to
celebrate “Greater Eid” or “the Festival of Sacrifice”.  This is a major Muslim
holiday worldwide, based on the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his
son.  Culturally, I equate this to our Christmas.  My hope is to be
able to see first-hand some of the celebrations of the local people.
 Learning the traditions here is interesting, and it enables me to partner
with them much easier.

My last thoughts are of Veteran’s
Day…it is great to see so many other nations that we work with here on my base
celebrate this day together.  Each of our nation’s may celebrate with
different traditions, but we all celebrate the same thing – those who have gone
before us so that others have a better life!  I am personally proud to

So, from Kabul,