Todd Sullivan's Letters From Kabul

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 Afghanistan.

 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 serve…

So, from Kabul, GO FIRE!!!