The recently announced $500,000 grant by the State Department goes beyond simply organizing teams for a league. The State Department wishes the grant awardee to "organize, produce and TV broadcast the Sixers tournament", train Afghans in sports broadcasting, "develop positive messaging"
to promote the games, and evaluate the program's impact.
According to the Afghan Cricket Board, British soldiers played cricket in Afghanistan as early as 1839, but not until the 1970s did interest in the sport begin to pick up among the native population. Afghanistan's national cricket team has even had some success in recently completed 2015 Cricket World Cup tournament, beating Scotland in a surprise victory.
The State Department says that this Sixers tournament is "essential to the further development of the cricket sector in Afghanistan" and even credits the country's participation in the World Cup for helping to unify the embattled nation:
Afghanistan’s 2015 World Cup participation unified the country and showed that Afghans can overcome the ethnic and regional barriers that fuel much of the country’s strife. In the last year the Men’s National team received glowing coverage in the international media, describing cricket as “an expression of hopes of national unity, national recognition, national achievement, and at the bottom of it all, peace.”Cricket is often thought of as a British sport, but the game is popular throughout many other parts of the world. The International Cricket Council (headquartered in Dubai) lists Africa, Asia, Pacific East-Asia, the Americas and Europe as the regions covered by the council.
Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.