Since the Soviet/Afghan war in the early 1980s, up to three million Afghans have fled Afghanistan, both legally and illegally, to the neighbouring country of Iran seeking asylum.
Many of these refugees are in a dangerously precarious situation as they are unable to acquire legal status. Therefore, they cannot access fundamental needs such as basic education or social welfare. Despite their difficulties, this community has continued to grow as prospects in Afghanistan become increasingly more uncertain. The latest generation of Afghans are born and raised in Iran. The Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation (PKCF) dedicates a meaningful amount of its focus and resources to this largely neglected community.
My name is Tarik Ben Brahim. I was raised in London to an Iranian mother and Moroccan-Austrian father. I grew up playing youth football and began coaching in 2013 for Sporting Duet Academy. I am extremely conscious of the impact football has had on my life, ranging from self confidence to identity, and my mission is to share the joys of sport with other young people around the world.
During the summer of 2014, I set up a crowd-funding page to fund a three week football camp for the boys of ILIA, a school funded by PKCF in Sharh-e-Rey, Tehran, Iran. However, during those three weeks it became apparent just how much good was coming out of the football camp, so much so that PKCF committed to funding it for the foreseeable future.
We are now more than two years down the line.
The project is a permanent fixture for the young men and children of Sharh-e-Rey to play the beautiful game and learn some invaluable life lessons along the way. It has grown from 55 players to 150 (a strongly integrated mix of Afghan and Iranian) who receive weekly training sessions and compete on a regular basis. Our team has won two editions of the "Halfback Tournament", an annual competition put on by the "The Society for Protection of Children's Rights" and continues to grow day by day.
We have also been partners with Intercampus (Inter Milan's Charitable organisation) since April 2016. Inter provides us state of the art training for our coaches, training equipment and kits during their bi-yearly visits as we continue our mission in Sharh-e-Rey.