Dallas Cup officials along with officials from the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau today announced Afghanistan will be sending an U14 boys soccer team to compete in Dallas Cup XXV, to be contested April 4-11, 2004.
This is an exciting day for youth soccer in Dallas and around the world. We are thrilled to be hosting an Under 14 youth team from Afghanistan at Dallas Cup XXV and we know this will be the experience of a lifetime for both the young men from Afghanistan as well as everyone associated with the Dallas Cup. Our goal over the past twenty-five years has been to offer youth soccer players the most diverse experience possible as well as competitive soccer, said Gordon Jago, Dallas Cup Executive Director.
The announcement was made official today by Michael Moriarty from the London office of the English Football Association (FA). Moriarty, who is The English FA's representative in Kabul, as part of The FA's contribution to the International Football Task Force initiative to bring football back to life in Afghanistan. This task force, set up and funded mainly by FIFA, also involves other organizations such as the AFC and the German FA (DFB). All parties are contributing to assisting with the development in this war-torn country on a long-term basis". Moriarty has been in Kabul along with Holger Obermann of the German National Olympic organization directing the development and reorganization of the Afghanistan National soccer program.
Afghanistan has endured nearly 25 years of war, hardship and isolation. As with any country emerging from such a dark past, its future lies in the hands of its youth. Our Under 14 team represents the footballing future of the country. The opportunity for these young men to travel to the USA, to compete with so many nations, and most importantly, to live with American families is incredibly valuable. It will not only enhance their footballing skills, it will provide them with a unique experience. That experience which will do much to increase their understanding of the wider world with which they will have to engage as they grow up. The Afghan Football Federation is extremely grateful to the organizers of the Dallas Cup for this extraordinary opportunity, which has generated enormous excitement and pride in Afghanistan, said Michael Moriarty.
Dallas Cup annually brings more than 145 youth soccer teams from across the country and around the globe to compete in the weeklong soccer tournament every Easter week. Past participants have included such soccer notables as David Beckham, Raul, Kleberson, Michael Owen, Claudio Reyna and others. Teams have participated from more than 98 countries as well as most of the United States. The economic impact on the city of Dallas has been considerable over the last twenty five years as the tournament has grown in stature and popularity.
The Dallas Cup has been a major revenue generator for the city of Dallas since it attracts so many competitors and fans from around the world to Dallas. The economic benefit for the city has consistently been in the millions of dollars and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is excited to be an active partner with the tournament, added Phillip Jones, Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO.
The Afghanistan team will continue the longstanding Dallas Cup tradition of having international teams hosted by the families of local soccer teams who also participate in the tournament.. The Dallas Cup HomeStay Program provides a wonderful opportunity for the players of both teams to enjoy the building of long term friendships and the sharing of cultural differences.