About two weeks ago, I was informed by Lieutenant Joshua Pogue, a co-worker of mine at 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan who works at Shorabak, that there is a pool there. Shorabak is an Afghan National Army (ANA) base a few minutes away from Camp Leatherneck. Josh called me because he knew about the Afghanistan National Water Polo Team, 201st Corps Swim and Water Polo Team, and my work at the 201st Commando Kandak. He knew I would be immediately interested in hearing this news. Since then, I have asked Josh many times about the pool: Where it was, how to get there, how the pool was built, what it was used for in the past, future plans for the pool, and which ANA soldiers had more information about the pool.
I was finally able to escape from work and go to Shorabak. I received a quick tour of Shorabak from Josh. He took me to go eat at a linguist dining facility at FOB Tombstone, an adjacent base operated by the UK. The food was very reminiscent of my dining experiences in Pol-e-Charki at the linguist dining facility, Commando dining facility, and the ANA dining facility; and at the Commando field mess in Jalalabad. A lot of rice, a little meat, and many vegetables and fruit. We took our meals to one of the linguists’ tents and ate there. We sat on the floor and ate our feast, spoke about a myriad of topics to include American politics, Afghan politics, the Marine Corps, and the soap opera that was playing on the television that was in Farsi. It was a very enjoyable time and our hosts were just happy for us to be there.
After lunch, Josh showed me the pool. It was right across the street from the building he works in. The pool stands above ground and on a man-made hill. There is a staircase leading up to it with nice tiling and barbed wire surrounding the entire structure. The pool is about the size of a large backyard pool or your standard hotel pool. It is about 15 yards long and 10 yards wide. There was some trash inside the pool: plastic bottles, soda cans, wrappers, and some miscellaneous scraps. There was also some dirt and gravel inside. I also found a rubber tube that looked like it was possibly used for putting water into the pool.
Josh then told me that Colonel Sarwa, the S-3 officer for 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps, Afghan National Army built the pool by hand last year. By the looks of the pool and the limited resources in the area, he did a magnificent job building the pool. I was hoping to meet the colonel but he was away with his brigade fighting the war. From what Josh was told, the pool is the best place to be during the hot months for all of the ANA soldiers in Helmand Province. As he was telling me this, I was watching the 30 or so ANA soldiers sitting on the edge of the pool…with no water in it.
Josh then took me to meet Captain Zebullah. Since Colonel Sarwa was gone, Captain Zebullah who is the assistant S-3 officer for the brigade would be the most suitable person to help with my goal of starting a swimming and water polo team at this pool. Captain Zebullah was gone at the moment and one of his soldiers told us that he would be back soon. Since I was gone from work for a while already and Josh also had to go back to work, we decided that I would come back and the beginning of the week to speak with Captain Zebullah.
I eagerly await to meet and discuss the idea of a swim and water polo team at Shorabak. I think it will be a great opportunity for the ANA soldiers, for the people in the area, build the important bridges between US and Afghan military, and spread these sports into more areas and people in Afghanistan. Another crazy idea, I know. We will see where this takes us.