The Afghan Women’s National Football Team Raise Their Voices on Equality
Earlier this year, I met members of the Afghan women’s national football team who now reside in Australia. For months they were silenced by fear, but have found the courage to come together and raise their voices, spreading awareness on what continues to unfold in their beloved Afghanistan. Here we share their story.
It began on August 15, 2021 when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and the lives of those across the country changed in the blink of an eye. On that day, women’s rights, advances and freedom were taken away, which included the right to play football.
Women from the Afghan national football team were forced into hiding, burning their jerseys, burying their trophies before they fled the country with help from the team’s former captain, Khalida Popal.
This wasn’t without great risk, as for days they slept outside of Kabul airport, fearing they could be robbed or worse, kidnapped or killed. The risk didn’t dissolve once they boarded a flight to Australia as they were separated from their families who continue to live in fear, not only at the hands of the Taliban, but from neighbours who share the Taliban’s views of women in sport.
'Football was our life in Afghanistan. Football was our passion. Describing what it meant to have it taken away is just too hard.' – Mona Amini, 16 years, striker.
'I want to be the voice for all women in Afghanistan and I will tell them to fight! Not with violence, but with their arts, maybe with their job, their knowledge, their sport. With football.' – Fatima Mursal Sadat, 19 years, defender.
Coming together for the first time in six months, they forgot their pain for a fleeting moment as they were reunited with their second family. Holding back tears of sadness as they recounted their experience and the life they had to leave behind, their trauma continues to haunt their dreams and guilt fills their hearts.
Speaking out, the women hope that they will still be recognised as the Afghan women’s national football team, so that one day they can rejoin their loved ones.
'When I was in Afghanistan I wanted every family to understand that football is not just a sport for men, it’s a sport for every gender! And I am a woman, I want to play as a woman.' – Montaha Muslih, 19 years, goalkeeper.
hummel has been a longtime supporter of the Afghan women’s national football team, and are providing aid for their journey in Australia. A new Afghan national football jersey has been created and is available to purchase here. All profits generated will be donated to the team and their fight for equality.
Acknowledging the brave Tamana Abasi, Krishma, Abasi, Mina Ahmadi, Nazia Ali, Mona Amini, Shamsia Amiri, Krishma Faqiri, Adeba Ganji, Ahadia Haidari, Bahara Kohistani, Arezo Mohammadi, Nilab Mohammadi, Samira Momand, Montaha Moslih, Razia Noori, Manozh Noori, Saleha Rezaei, Fatema Mursal Sadat, Manizha Sadat, Nadia Saeedi, Bahara Samimi and Fatima Yousufi. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.
Concept and Direction: Audrey Bugeja and Sam Wong
Video: Barun Chatterjee
Video assistant: Huw Rodgers
Sound: Adam Armstrong
Editor: Naveed Faro
Photo: Sam Wong and Ella Haines
Special thanks to Cesca Benson, Amber De Luca-Tao, Michael Tyrikos (Clifton Hill FC) and Bridget Turner (Yarra City Council).
For a collection of in-depth interviews and features, head over to <Platform> – an inclusive space created by Sneaker Freaker, which aims to champion the women who are breaking barriers and are helping to shape the sneaker and streetwear industry.,