WILLIAMSTOWN -- Williams College alumnus Nick Pugliese (’12) will speak on Sunday of his experience living in Kabul, Afghanistan and playing professional soccer.
His presentation, "Afghanistan United: How Soccer Ignited a Nation and Welcomes a Stranger," will take place on campus at 7 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3, at 844 Main St. The event is free and open to the public.
Pugliese, a former Williams soccer captain and midfielder who was recently profiled in a segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter, will talk about his time in Kabul and his latest project, a film documentary about pickup soccer in Kabul.
Pugliese headed to Kabul after graduation to work for a telecommunications firm, and soon found himself playing pickup soccer in Kabul. Shortly thereafter Pugliese opted to leave the firm and sign on to play professionally with Ferozi Football Club in the Kabul Premier League. He is the first American to play professional soccer in Afghanistan.
Pugliese moved out of the telecommunications compound and into an apartment building with several of his Ferozi teammates. Ferozi won the pre-season Kabul Premier League Tournament and ended up second in the official Kabul Premier League playoffs at season’s end.
On Sept. 11, 2013, hundreds of thousands of Afghans from all backgrounds took to the streets, not to protest but to celebrate. The national soccer team had just defeated regional powerhouse India to become the champions of South Asia. While soccer has always been popular in Afghanistan, 2013 was the first year when the entire country rallied around the national team and soccer in general as the unifying force.
How was soccer able to do this? Pugliese’s talk will examine that question, discussing his own experiences in Afghanistan as well as the success of the national soccer team in the context of Afghan culture and politics.
This event is sponsored by the Gaudino Fund.