On Thursday (August 19), the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of Afghanistan revealed that a national team footballer by the name of Zaki Anwari fell to his death while trying to escape the Taliban regime, reported Ariana News.
Anwari was clinging onto the wheels of the USAF Boeing C-17 on Monday (August 16) but soon fell to the ground after the flight took off from the Hamid Karzai International Aiport in Kabul.
The General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan confirmed Zaki Anwari, a player from the national youth football team, was among hundreds of young people who tried to leave the country by clinging to a US military plane. Anwari fell and died.#ArianaNews pic.twitter.com/onhcSMFiEu— Ariana News (@ArianaNews_) August 19, 2021
While speaking about the matter to The Daily Beast, Anwari’s coach Mobin Muhammad remarked, “He was a brilliant young player, a very good human.” Shams Amini, the deputy spokesman of the Afghan football federation, had described the deceased footballer as a lovely human being. His teammate Rahil Abid informed that all his bones were smashed after Zaki Anwari fell off the plane. A condolence message was also shared by the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO).
In a statement, the federation said, “Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and teammates of young Afghan national team footballer Zaki Anwari, who reportedly died in a fall from a US plane at Kabul airport on Monday.”
Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and teammates of young Afghan national team footballer Zaki Anwari, who reportedly died in a fall from a U.S. plane at Kabul airport on Monday. pic.twitter.com/2DgulUw1HD— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) August 19, 2021
Who was Zaki Anwari?
Anwari was a 19-year-old who played for Afghanistan’s national soccer team. However, the New York Times (NYT) has claimed his age to be 17 years. It was earlier reported that two people fell to their deaths from the USAF Boeing C-17 after the takeoff. The US Air Force had also conceded that it found human DNA in the landing gear of the plane, after it landed in Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar from Afghanistan. The identity of one of the victims as Zaki Anwari was established by the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of Afghanistan.
“Anwari, like thousands of Afghan youths, wanted to leave the country but fell off a US plane and died,” it said in a statement. As per his Facebook profile, Zaki Anwari was a student of the Esteqlal High school. Aref Peyman, the Head of media relations for Afghanistan’s Olympic Committee, informed that the deceased footballer hailed from a low-income household. He was attending school while also representing the national side in soccer. Peyman emphasised that Anwari had to work extremely hard to secure a place in the National team.
He further added, “He was kind and patient, but like so many of our young people he saw the arrival of the Taliban as the end of his dreams and sports opportunities. He had no hope and wanted a better life.”
It is notable here that the Taliban regime had banned sports and music during their earlier rule in Afghanistan.
Afghans clung on to US airplane in a desperate bid to escape
Earlier, videos went viral on the internet that showed Afghans hanging on to the tyres of US Air Force’s C-17 planes leaving the country from the Kabul Airport, and then falling off from the sky after take-off. The harrowing visuals were shared by journalists on Twitter and other platforms. Ragip Soylu, the Turkish bureau chief for Middle East Eye, also shared a video that showed some Afghan youths hanging on to the engines of the flight before take-off from the airport. Locals had also confirmed that the Afghans fell on top of houses with a devastating crash. They said that the fall made a terrifying noise when the bodies hit the roofs.
Chaotic scenes were observed at the Kabul Airport after the Taliban managed to capture the capital of Afghanistan on August 15. Chaos erupted at the airport with over-crowding of citizens and non-existent security. Passengers were also seen waiting at the tarmac of the airport in long queues in the hopes of leaving the country at the earliest. On the morning of 16 August, the situation at Kabul International Airport looked worse. Hundreds of people were seen hurrying along on a rather empty tarmac, falling over themselves to board a plane and get out of the country.