The champion returns and begs for Afghan youth to build a better future

TMP – 23/05/2017

World champion in free fighting and member of the mixed martial arts national team Siyar Bahadurzada returned to Afghanistan on 7 May to coach the national team.

Bahadurzada is a mixed martial art (MMA) fighter who currently fights at welterweight level for the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). He returned to Afghanistan on the back of an official invitation from the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee to train the national team.

“It was not an easy journey to find my place in the UFC. It took 18 years of hard work and dedication. However, with my guidance and supervision my fellow Afghans could reach that level a lot easier and faster, by simply following my footsteps,” Bahadurzada said during a speech to the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee.

“For my next fight, I will establish my training camp in Afghanistan to attract international media and sports investors to my home country. I will provide an international platform to Afghan athletes within Afghanistan,” he added.

Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee warmly welcomed Bahadurzada’s return by hosting an official medal ceremony in his honour.

“Our youth need inspiration and role models and with Mr. Bahadurzada’s return we are getting both,” said Zahir Akhbar, the head of the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee, during the ceremony as he was awarded the sports star with a medal for his services to MMA in Afghanistan.

During his first week in Kabul, Bahadurzada visited a number of sports organizations, local gyms, universities and youth centers and also made multiple appearances on national TV channels. A consistent theme in all his speeches was a call to young people to stay in Afghanistan and help build a better future for generations to come.

Bahadurzada also called upon Afghan athletes to focus their energy and dedication to act as ambassadors for  peaceful Afghanistan. “Nothing gives me more joy than my national anthem being played on international stages because of me,” Bahadurzada said.