Afghan girls eye better life through football

Teenagers like Karishma Faqiri and Bibi Razia Noori, who are part of their school team competing in the Subroto Cup under-17 tournament, represent the generation that is looking beyond the hurdles and aiming higher.

Afghanistan footballers Karishma Faqiri (left) and Bibi Razia Noori, members of the Rabia Balkhi School team competing in the Subroto Cup under-17 tournament.   -  SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

In spite of all the socio-economic challenges, Afghanistan is keen to make its mark in international sports. Teenagers like Karishma Faqiri and Bibi Razia Noori truly represent the generation that is looking beyond the hurdles and aiming higher.

In the capital city as member of the Rabia Balkhi School team to compete in the Subroto Cup (under-17) tournament, these girls played their part in taking the side to the quarterfinals.

It is indeed creditable to find a girls team from Afghanistan.

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“It's a dream to represent my country someday,” says Karishma, the skipper is a striker. “I want to play in under-17 and under-19 national teams. There are people who face many problems and don't have good facilities. They don't lead a good life and it’s my ambition to lead a good life without any problem.”

A fan of Neymar’s game, Karishma has been part of the school team for the last three years. She took to football as a 10-year old in Panjshir, one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Later, she shifted to Kabul to achieve her ambition of playing
football under better coaches with good facilities.

“We are an Islamic country and there are very less sportswomen because they have to face so many difficulties. People don't like girls playing sports but my parents, friends, classmates, teachers, supported me throughout my journey. When my neighbours saw me play football on streets, they encouraged me to carry on. One day I want to play for my national team,” says Faqiri.

For Noori, too, football is her life. “I started playing football at the age of 11 because I fell in love with this game after watching La Liga. People used to say don't play this game. My parents supported me and said “don't listen to people around you, just ignore them and concentrate on what you are doing.”

Daughter of a policeman, 16-year old Noori says, “he inspired me and told me never to lose hope in life.

The reality check comes from coach Zaher Hassani. “Our team is not perfect. They have big problems and most families do not allow the girls to play football. They are very poor and can’t spend on their girls. First we have to speak to their family, convince them and then train them.”

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