In June, six top teams from across Afghanistan participated in the first women’s volleyball tournament in Kabul. The event, hosted by the Department of Physical Education & Sports, the Ministry of Education, and the Afghan Women’s Volleyball Federation, aimed to encourage women’s involvement in athletics. The “Peace League of Education” tournament lasted four days and consisted of teams from both governmental and non-governmental organizations.
In May, 12 teams of Jaghori girls competed in the first women’s volleyball tournament in all of Afghanistan. Photos from the tournament in Ghazni province show crowds of people cheering on the players, suggesting a major change in Afghani social attitudes towards women’s involvement in sports.
Abdul Wadood Kazemiar, the technical director of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Physical Education, told the BBC that some of the players present at the tournament were also members of Afghanistan’s National Women’s Volleyball Team. Ahmad Javid Sharafi, coach of the Afghan Red Crescent Girls Volleyball Team, hopes to eventually build a strong national team to compete outside of Afghanistan.
Mozhgan Sadat, an Afghan Red Crescent player, explained to the BCC that despite obstacles she has encountered while pursuing competitive volleyball for over seven years, she and her teammates “stand up to the commitment we’ve made and will never give up on our dreams.” Sadat has big goals for the future, stating that her dream is “to compete in world championships.” Forouzan Hadi, captain of the Women’s Volleyball Association and a resident of Baghlan Province, hopes to keep up the momentum by establishing a volleyball coalition aimed at encouraging more girls to join a volleyball league.
Afghan women and girls have also made headlines and garnered international attention while competing in other sports. While the Afghan men’s team finished second in an AFC U20 futsal championship in Iran, 12 girls’ soccer teams in Kabul also qualified for a competitive national tournament. Just last summer, a group of women from Afghanistan, ranging in age from 15 to 23, became the first Afghan women to successfully climb the highest mountain in the country, Mount Noshaq. In addition, the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team is the subject of a 2018 documentary highlighting the reestablishment of the team and the cyclists’ success at international races.
Media Resources: BBC 6/21/19, Khabarnama 6/20/19, 6/22/19, Outside Online 4/8/19, Huffington Post 11/18/16