News: Nalgham wrestling tournament demonstrates “Afghan normalcy” returning to area
Story by Capt. Kevin Sandell
NALGHAM, Afghanistan – For the first time in several years, residents of Nalgham in central Zharay district, participated in a wrestling tournament, Nov. 1, in the village of Sarquelia, in what Afghan and coalition security forces say is an increasing sign of security gains and the return of “Afghan normalcy” throughout the area.
During a recent Sarquelia Village claims shura, the residents asked soldiers from Combined Task Force Spartan’s 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, to secure an area for the wrestling tournament. Like football in the U.S., wrestling is a national pastime for Afghans, who consider it to be a unique part of their culture.
On the day of the tournament, 15 men from throughout the Nalgham area participated, and were divided into specific weight classes to fight. Additionally, 60 local fans from six different villages, along with groups of Afghan army soldiers, police officers and the local community security group attended the event, and according to coalition forces’ leaders who also attended, were eclectic throughout the event, clearly showing their enthusiasm while cheering on the competitors.
Each of the 15 wrestlers were presented with a motorcycle that was already registered with village officials, along with a custom new paint job.
The commander of 1-32 Infantry Battalion, Lt. Col. Kenneth Mintz, said the people in Nalgham are increasingly becoming more confident in their security and trust in the Afghan security forces to protect the gains made throughout the area. The wrestling tournament is a sign of visible progress that Afghans are feeling comfortable going back to a normal life.
“With progress, the people of Nalgham will increasingly feel safe enough to conduct these types of events and continue normal day-to-day activities,” said Lt. Col. Mintz.