The players of Afghanistan’s National Women’s Football Team participated in a local league match in Australia on Sunday for the first time since their escape from the Taliban.
The result was a draw without a goal after an Afghan goal was rejected for being offside in a lower-league amateur match in the state of Victoria.
The match showed the Taliban couldn’t stop the players, said team captain Nilab, who, like her teammates, did not give family names to protect their loved ones in Afghanistan.
“We continue our struggle and our struggle just to play for the Afghan people,” she added.
“We fled the country but we still think about our country and we always work for our victory for our country.”
Australia helped dozens of Afghan girls and their families flee when the Taliban came back to power eight months ago.
The Taliban have since severely restricted women’s freedoms, banning girls’ education and even preventing women from getting on a plane without a male relative.
When the players took refuge in different countries, the National Women’s Team was broken up.
‘Together and powerful’
But many took up residence in and around Melbourne, the capital of the eastern state of Victoria, where the A-League Melbourne Victory professional women’s team helped them return to the field.
Goalkeeper Fatima said that people who had seen images of Afghanistan on social media after the return of the Taliban could understand the courage players need to leave their homes.
“They can understand how difficult it was for everyone to be in this situation,” she told AFP.
Today we play as a team and together we have power. It’s incredible.”