Afghan girl soccer team in exile in Portugal | National News

ALEXSAN ZAP communication

The girls on the Afghanistan national football team were worried. For weeks, they roamed the country, waiting for the words they could leave.

One wants to be a doctor, the other wants to be a film producer, and the other wants to be an engineer. I dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

Then the message finally came early Sunday: charter flights will carry girls and their families from Afghanistan to places they didn’t know. The bus that took them to the airport was already on their way.

“They left home and left everything behind,” said Farkhunda Muhtaj, captain of the Afghan women’s national team, who spent the last few weeks from her home in Canada. Working to communicate with the girls and help arrange their rescue, I told the Associated Press. “They can’t understand that they are out of Afghanistan.”

Since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, girls aged 14 to 16 and their families have been trying to leave for fear of what the life under the Taliban would be like. Not only because women and girls are forbidden to play sports, they were defenders of girls and active members of their community.

At the end of Sunday, they landed in Lisbon, Portugal.

In this week’s interview with AP, Muhtaj, football team members, part of their family, and football federation staff said their last days in Afghanistan, their international efforts to save them, and their new I talked about the promise of freedom.

A rescue mission, called Operation Soccer Ball, was coordinated with Tullivan through the United Nations of former U.S. military and intelligence officials, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, U.S. allies, and humanitarian groups, and CIA and Air Force veteran Nick. McKinley said. Founded the Dallas-based Deliver Fund. This is a non-profit organization that is a safe home for a family of 50 Afghanistan.

“Everything had to be done very quickly. Ground contact showed that we had a time frame of about three hours,” McKinley said. “Time was very important.”

Operation Soccer Ball suffered many setbacks, including the failure of several rescue attempts. Self-destruction terrorism A Taliban rival, Islamic State militants, carried out at Kabul Airport, killing 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel.The bombing Miserable airlift The US military admits that it had some coordination with the Taliban.

It was the size of the group that complicated the rescue operation. 80 people, including 26 youth team members, and other children, including adults and toddlers.

Robert McCreeley, a former parliamentary chief and white house official under President George W. Bush, who worked with special forces in Afghanistan to lead efforts to rescue the national women’s football team, said Portugal to the girl and her family. He said he admitted asylum.

“The world has come together to help these girls and their families,” McCreary said. “These girls are really a symbol of the light of the world and mankind.”

The Taliban sought to present a new image, promising amnesty to former adversaries and saying they would form an inclusive government. Many Afghans do not trust these promises and are afraid that the Taliban will soon resort to the brutal tactics of the 1996-2001 rules, including keeping girls and women out of school and work. ..

This week, the Taliban set up a “Ministry of Propagation and Discipline” in the building that once housed the Ministry of Women. Limit women’s rights..

As the girls moved from safehouse to safehouse, teacher Mutaji said he helped them calm down through virtual exercise and yoga sessions, and by giving them homework, including writing autobiographies.

She said she couldn’t share details about the rescue mission with the girl and her family, and asked her and others to “blindly” believe.

“Their mental condition was deteriorating. Many of them were homesick. Many of them missed their friends in Kabul,” Muhtaj said. “They had unconditional faith. We revived their spirit.”

Some girls talked to AP through an interpreter. They said they wanted to continue playing football — they were urged not to do it while they were hiding — and wanted to meet Portuguese-born Cristiano Ronaldo in the forwards of football superstar Manchester United. increase.

Wida Zemarai, goalkeeper and coach of the Afghan women’s national football team, who moved to Sweden after the Taliban came to power in 1996, said the girls were emotional after the rescue.

“They can now dream. They can continue to play,” Zemarai said.

Follow Alex Sanz on Twitter.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Afghan girl soccer team in exile in Portugal | National News

Source link Afghan girl soccer team in exile in Portugal | National News

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