A Tokyo student group hopes to use the World Cup to cheer up kids in Afghanistan.

The Afghan-Project 2002 Club plans to send soccer equipment, televisions and satellite dishes to the war-torn country to enable children there to watch the World Cup.

The project was established by Ryota Fujino, a student at Keio University in Tokyo, after he read a report about the plight of Afghan children.

The initial plan was to send equipment that would enable the Afghans to watch the World Cup. The group now also plans to send soccer gear so children there can play the sport. The equipment was provided by a sporting goods manufacturer.

Why balls and not food?

“I wanted to do something that would make the children in Afghanistan really happy and cheerful, so I thought of soccer,” Fujino said. “And with just a ball and a small space, it’s an easy thing for kids to enjoy.”

One member of the team visited Afghanistan recently to check for logistic problems.

The group organized a futsal (the smaller, five-a-side version of soccer) tournament at Kabul’s Olympic Stadium that is currently taking place. The final will be held June 16, and students in the project will present the trophy to the winners.

The student group also organized a June 15-16 futsal tournament near Akarenga (Red Brick) warehouse in Yokohama. Teams are still needed.

The group has grown from two people to more than 70 while they’ve canvassed for support. They have also received help from air-freight carrier DHL, broadcaster NHK and Hiromi Nagakura, a photojournalist who has been to Afghanistan and published a book of photos.

But they are still short of the funds required to carry out the project. They have raised 1.7 million yen but still need 1 million yen more, so they are looking for more sponsors.

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