15th September 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
Fleeing Taliban rule in their own land, members and officials of the Afghanistan National Women’s Junior Football team have reached Pakistan on emergency visas.
A delegation of 81 people including the families of players and officials crossed into Pakistan from the Torkham border on Tuesday, September 14. Those who entered Pakistan include children, the elderly, the husbands of players and young boys.
The government of Pakistan issued a total of 115 visas for 30 days for football players and their families on the request of British-based NGO Football For Peace.
Sardar Naveed, an executive member of Football For Peace in Pakistan, said his organisation had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, requesting assistance in evacuating members of the Afghan Women’s Junior Football team and their families from Afghanistan in wake of the Taliban takeover.
“In response, the Government of Pakistan issued visas to the women footballers and their families on humanitarian grounds,” he told Voicepk.net.
Naveed added that the delegation team travelled to Torkham border from the Afghan city of Jalalabad along with their families, coaches and officials.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary welcomed the arrival of the Afghan women footballers in the country. In a tweet, Chaudhry mentioned that the players were in possession of valid Afghan passports and Pakistani visas.
We welcome Afghanistan Women football team they arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan,The players were in possession of valid Afg Passport, pak visa, They were received by Nouman Nadeem of PFF
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 14, 2021
The 81-member delegation is currently staying at Football House Lahore under strict security arrangements.
“Pakistan Football Federation is their host and the team is housed here till their next plan of travel abroad,” Naveed said.
In response to a question about the reasons behind the sports team fleeing the country, he said that the recent statements from the Taliban government about the future of women in sports in Afghanistan are not encouraging. “The Afghan players thought of going to some third country to make their career in sports.”
Earlier, members and families of the Afghanistan National Women Football team were flown to Australia in the last week of August. The junior team however was stranded in Afghanistan following the August 26 bomb attacks at Kabul airport.
The players had fled in fear of their lives as the Taliban imposed a ban on women’s participation in all sports.