Afghanistan's rugby players will hope their maiden 'international' sevens match here on Friday against UAE Shaheen will launch them on a similarly successful trajectory as their cricketing counterparts have enjoyed.
Even to be making the trip is an achievement -- they only had three players less than a year ago -- but, as their 25-year-old scrum-half Aziz Ahmad pointed out, it is not winning that is the most important element.
"For us it is all about enjoyment. We play for each other and we love to play rugby," said Ahmad on the IRB website.
"We are honoured to play for Afghanistan and, inshallah, we will win and make our country proud.
"We have improved a lot in recent months but we know we still have much to learn about this game. But we will play our best, work hard and see what happens," added Ahmad, who first started playing rugby in Pakistan in 2005.
The team are now preparing for a three-match series against UAE Shaheen, and a lot of their rapid development is down to Steve Brooking, an Afghan-based United Nations worker who is also the Afghanistan Rugby Federation's (ARF) technical advisor.
"On day one we had three players, on day two we had seven and then on the third day 15 players showed up. It really grew as it went on and the Game is now developing a life of its own, especially in Kabul," said Brooking, who undertook a similar role in China in 1990 before enjoying a 20-year career in the British Foreign Office.
"By the end of 2011, we were in the position to stage a national Sevens tournament.
"Eight teams and 120 players were there and now we have a national squad. Up until now, we've been playing at the NATO base in Kabul against military teams. That's why this tour to Dubai is so big for us - we will get to play against another country's team."
The origin of the Afghan sevens team dates back to March 2010 when the fledgling Afghanistan Rugby Federation (ARF) contacted the IRB's staff in Asia.
The game's governing body assisted the ARF in beginning its membership pathway to join the Asian Rugby Football Union in November 2011, and it has grown into a sports federation that is now recognised by Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee.
"The idea of Rugby was started by a group of Afghans, who had seen it in the UK and they thought it would be popular at home," said Brooking.
"They pushed it when they got home to Kabul. They thought it would suit the Afghan people because it is a tough, physical and athletic sport which depends on good teamwork, strength and passion.
"It means a lot to the players to be travelling to Dubai and playing against UAE Shaheen."
Brooking believes that, aside from the playing experience they will gain, the trip will also widen their understanding of the game.
"This week in Dubai is important for their development," said Brooking.
"They will see Fifteens Rugby for the first time, they will mix with players from other countries who have more knowledge of the Game and I expect them to pick up so much that way. It is great for them as players."
This is just the first of two trips as the squad are due to travel to England in June to compete in the Bourenmouth Sevens among other competitive engagements.
Ahmad believes that the sport has the potential to become huge back in Afghanistan.
"The future of rugby in Afghanistan is very bright. I would like to see the sport grow there," he said.
"I think if the people are shown this Game, they will love it. It could become very popular in Kabul and all over the country."
Source: AFP Global Edition