Soccer player embodies one Afghanistan success story: sports – Los Angeles Times

As far back as he can remember, soccer has been part of Shafaq Ayobi’s life.

As a 7-year-old shepherd in eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province, he kicked around a ball that he and his friends formed from scraps of cloth. Each day, as he made the seven-mile journey from home to the grazing area for his family’s livestock, he carried the ersatz ball.

“While the animals would graze and drink water,” he said, “I would play.”

The middle child of 11 siblings, Ayobi said it was his three older brothers, who played on local soccer teams, who inspired him.

“I always thought to myself, one day I will play like them.”

Ayobi was 8 when his family fled growing insecurity in Laghman for the eastern city of Jalalabad. After playing in a high school match and scoring goal after goal, Ayobi was taken under the wing of one of his brothers.

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