‘Symbolic’ Afghanistan national women’s soccer team gives a voice for the voiceless on and off the pitch in Melbourne

More than 11,000 kilometres from Kabul, Afghanistan National Women’s players have returned to their beloved game of football. 

The scene was set. An autumn afternoon in Melbourne at the start of May, with rays of hope from the sun peeking through the clouds at a suburban park, far from the lights of bigger stadiums.

Separated from families where girls can’t attend school, Afghanistan’s highest-profile women’s sporting team has started its first season nine months after seeking asylum in Australia.

Human Rights Advocate and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has been helping guide the women in their relocation to play in Victoria’s State League Division 4 West under the banner of the Melbourne Victory Afghan Women’s Team.

“Teams like this wonderful team from Afghanistan are incredibly important because they represent tens of thousands of refugees who don’t have a voice,” Foster said.

Former Socceroos captain and human rights advocate Craig Foster says the team can heal through playing in Australia.(ABC Sport: Damien Peck)

“They know that every time they kick a ball here, every time they score a goal, every time they even take to the field with a smile and enjoy their basic right to playing sport, they’re striking a blow for all women and girls in Afghanistan. They’re striking a blow for women’s rights all around the world.”

There’s so much more at stake for these women than winning football, having given up so much to relocate their livelihood for an opportunity just to play at what’s now considered a home away from home.

“The fact that they are football players … through sport, it gives them the opportunity to tell their story,” Foster said.

“It gives them the opportunity to speak to Australians. And as we come to know and love this team, we can also then consider better what it is that we’re doing to other refugees.

“So this team is incredibly symbolic, of so much that Australia needs to change.”

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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