How Afghanistan women’s football teammade it to Australia after seven years
When it comes to female football, Afghanistan has more than their fair share. From playing in small-town fields and in mud-walled mud-baths to traveling the world to compete for titles, the women of Afghanistan Football Federation (AFFC) have always had a strong presence on the world stage.
With only 10 years of age to be considered juniors, the girls from the AFFC were ready to embark on a journey to the A-League.
After a long and tortuous journey, the girls finally arrived back in Australia at the conclusion of a historic tournament. However, on this trip home, a group of girls from the AFFC were surprised to discover an undercurrent of discrimination as they looked to return home with a prize: The first-ever Afghan women’s football team at the A-League.
In this edition of Femalefirst, we speak to two of the girls who were part of the Afghan team: Karine and Nihal, and we speak with their coach, Maha.
“I miss Afghanistan”
When we met Karine she was about to turn 18 and her family was due to arrive in Australia over the next month. Karine lived in the southern city of Kandahar, where she was born, and she was due to fly in with her parents the next day.
“I miss Afghanistan so much after six years of being away from my home,” she explained to us.
It was Karine’s father who invited us down to her home for tea. Karine’s father is one of the most well known footballers in Afghanistan, being an active head coach for the AFFC. He came to Australia when the then-minority AFFC hosted her team at the AFFC Cup in Melbourne. This was a highly anticipated event for the Afghan women’s football team.
When the cup was announced, Karine’s father made the decision to fly home to Kandahar with a suitcase full of equipment for his football team. He only returned to Australia when the team had competed in the final and were crowned champions.
Karine’s father told us he was surprised with how many people watched the final. In fact, he said he had expected more fans to travel to the event.
Watching the women’s game