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Former Bengal Mamo Rafiq Coaches Afghanistan to First Ever Basketball Gold Medal - Sep 23, 2010

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Former Idaho State Bengal Mamo Rafiq has coached the Afghanistan National basketball Team since 2007, and he recently helped establish a first for his native country, as Afghanistan won the 2010 11th Annual South Asian Games, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Gold Medal is the first ever in the history of Afghanistan Team Sports.

Team Afghanistan won all three of their preliminary round games, winning over Pakistan 86-68, Sri Lanka 95-64, and over India in overtime 77-74. The team then easily won their semifinal game 107-34 over Nepal before taking on India again in a rematch for the title. Afghanistan then beat India, currently ranked #49 in the latest FIBA rankings, 65-64 to win their first ever gold medal in a team competition.

The team is sponsored by the Marshall Legacy Institute, which is working towards removing landmines in Afghanistan. Rafiq said of the experience, 'Winning the first gold medal in Afghanistan's history in a team sport is a tremendous honor. We are extremely thankful to our team sponsor, The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) for supporting our team and our country. Representing Afghanistan and the efforts of MLI who is attempting to remove landmines from our worn-torn country has been a dream come true on and off the court. It's a great accomplishment to share good news about Afghanistan with the world'

Rafiq played at Idaho State from 2000-02 before transferring to UC Davis to be closer to his family. He later returned to Idaho State and worked in ISU's academic services department. In 2001-02, he was the only Afghan native playing Division I basketball, and after the 9/11 attacks he was the subject of a special ESPN report that aired on Christmas Day in 2001, chronicling his life in Pocatello, and the adjustments he had to make after September 11.

Always a well liked player and a crowd favorite, Rafiq became the head coach of the Afghanistan National Basketball Team, a member of the Afghan Sports Federation, in 2007.

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