Khyber Green Fata cricket club has come a long way in making a name for itself.
In an event that boasted participants of international and first-class levels, Khyber Green Fata reached the final before their dream run in the 2nd Pakistan Champions League was ended by Al Noor Gymkhana. The journey, however, was a bumpy ride. Back home, the players struggled to make it to training and despite limited facilities – barring the Jamrodh Cricket Stadium – they have shown what willingness and talent can do.
Almar Afridi, a first-class player in the Khyber Green squad, recounts how he stayed motivated for a three-hour walk, four days a week in order to reach the local stadium for the last three years. Despite his residence in a curfew-enforced area, which resulted in deterioration of basic infrastructure and restriction of public mobility, Almar never lost his enthusiasm. It was easy to walk away from it all but for Almar, nothing has been more important than realising his dream — not even the risk of losing his life.
“The operation in Bara has demolished everything,” Almar told The Express Tribune. “There are no roads and I had to walk for three hours to get to the bus stop. The landscape is very rugged and it damaged my shoes. There were times when I would be walking alone in an open area and firing would start. I had to either return home or take shelter in some nearby residences. “Through thick and thin, Almar only sees greener pastures. His aim is to don the national colours.
“There was a blast near Jamrodh Stadium in January which killed nearly 50 people but the players survived the attack. At that point many of us thought whether it was safe to play but we moved on.”
Another player who has certainly made a mark as a leg-spinner is Aslam Khan. With Danish Kaneria out of the reckoning, Aslam is confident of booking a spot in the playing-eleven.
“The televised matches have helped us gain recognition and now several people are telling me that I’ll become a star in the future,” he said. “But I want to keep my head down and focus on my game. I opted out of a lucrative contract in a Bangladesh domestic league to become a part of the PCL and my decision was right because now several departments are offering me a job.”
Khyber Green captain Taimur Afridi also sounded confident and has set his sights on the national title.
“I request the cricket board to grant us a place in the national T20 tournaments and I am sure we have the quality to beat teams like Karachi Dolphins and Sialkot Stallions,” claimed Taimur who credited Rashid Latif for building an academy in Khyber Agency and said the development will go a long way in unearthing talent in the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012.
More in SportsSri Lanka seek one-day revival against Pakistan