If I had to pick a country that seemed to be the least likely to have a national rowing program, Afghanistan would definitely be in my top five, and not just because of current world politics or anything like that. Matt Trevithick, a BU alumni, is working towards building up the Afghan rowing program in order to potentially, hopefully be able to compete in Rio. FISA and ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) have pledged their support, as have local government officials who are planning to help get a boathouse built for the team.
A boathouse … and a rowing program … requiring thousands, nay millions of dollars in funding … in Afghanistan. I find it hard to process not because I think something like this is impossible or that the people there are undeserving but because nearly every day since I was in 8th grade all I’ve seen of Afghanistan is video and pictures of what amounts to nothing more than a sand pit completely encased in poverty and war. It seems crazy because of how dangerous you’d think being in that area would be more than anything else.
This is where they’ll be training…
…and this is the route that was driven to bring boats from Germany to Afghanistan. Can you imagine driving nearly 3,500 in three days? That’s about 500 miles less than the distance between Boston and San Francisco and I can’t even begin to imagine driving that in just three days. I like road trips but that’s pushing it.
Oh, and don’t think they’ll be rowing those shitty boats that you typically see novices rowing … oh no. In addition to the quad and double that Matt was already able to get, he was able to talk Filippi into donating some shells to the program. Can you imagine if you were just starting up a rowing program and were able to get one of the best boat manufacturers in the world to donate some shells to your team?
Here’s a great article from the Bostonia about the whole project.