As so often happens when the Dallas Cup organization is made aware of a possible overseas “Special Team” it is all about having good contacts world wide to assist us in the country of the recommended special team. Following the success of the USA, British and Combine Forces in driving the Taliban out of Kabul in 2002, a soccer game was arranged between a British Services team and a local Afghanistan team to be played in the stadium in Kabul that a few months previously had witnessed Taliban executions of local leaders and women not obeying the strict laws enforced by the Taliban. To assist the British team, a soccer coach friend of the Dallas Cup’s Executive Director, Gordon Jago, Laurie McMemeney was sent from London along with a huge supply of soccer balls and equipment, a gift from the English Football Association to the children of Kabul. The initial contact was in place.
Following further contact with the English FA and the Afghanistan Olympic Committee, it was agreed that an Afghanistan Boys U14 team would be the guests of the Dallas Cup and compete in the 2006 tournament. With a former British Army officer, Major Michael Moriarty, sent to Kabul by the English FA acting on behalf of all parties the first steps to bring the team to the USA were made and all appeared to be well. As there is no official US Consulate/Embassy in Afghanistan to issue US visas all officials and boys had to fly to Islamabad in Pakistan for their visa interviews resulting in an increase of $5000-$6000 on the Dallas Cup budget. The commitment to bring the team had been made so flights were booked and the interviews took place. As plans progressed, a call from Major Moriarty informed us that there was only one flight a week from Kabul to Frankfurt, the connecting city from Europe to Dallas. Therefore the team would have to fly on the Wednesday prior to the commencement of the tournament on Palm Sunday in order to arrive in Dallas for their opening game. The flight was booked but no information on the issuing of the visas from Islamabad had arrived. Urgent calls to the US Consulate in Islamabad were made but without success. The days dwindled down to a precious few and still no visas. With one week to go, the airline could no longer hold the seats booked and they were lost. Two days later the visas arrived in Kabul. Every effort was made to find a way for the young team to travel – all to no avail. The Afghanistan U14 boys’ team would not be able to compete in the Dallas Cup. It was a great disappointment to all the boys and to all who had worked so hard to have the very first Afghanistan boys’ team play in the USA. The Afghanistan U14 boys’ team was “the one that got away”.