Afghanistan’s National League Finale for both women and men started its ninth season on September 24, 2020. Women’s soccer teams from Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Jawzjan, Ghor, and Bamiyan played in this year’s season in Kabul. Team Herat won the title for Women’s Football (American soccer) League after defeating Kabul 3-2 in a thrilling match on Sunday. Herat’s team also earned six league points by defeating Jawzjan. Ghor’s team qualified for the semifinals after defeating Balkh. “It was a good match… We will make greater efforts in the upcoming matches. I have scored eight goals in the league so far,” said Fatima Haidari, a member of Herat’s team.
Despite the Taliban’s threats and their historical exclusion from the national sport Buzkashi, Afghan women’s participation in sports has been on the rise. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women have been participating in numerous sports such as cycling, bowling, tracking, hiking, cricket, soccer, taekwondo, and boxing. Women in big cities like Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif run their own sports clubs. There are also a few swimming pools just for women.
Afghan women athletes have also participated in international games. In 2016’s Summer Olympics, Kimia Yusufi competed against the best of the best in the 100-meter track heat. She was one of three athletes, and the only woman, representing Afghanistan in Rio. Although the Afghan government built playgrounds in girls’ schools to encourage their participation in sports, women athletes continue to call attention to the lack of facilities and resources. Some teams are garnering support from western donors; the United States has been one of the leading supporters of women’s engagement in sports in Afghanistan.
The right to be physically active and engage in outdoor activities is still not a reality for most Afghan women. One major barrier is a stigma that views women’s presence outside the house as a shameful taboo, believing outdoor activities to be only for men. Gyms and parks are often male-only spaces where women still face harassment. The match among Afghanistan’s women’s soccer teams was live on TOLO TV, which helped normalize women’s participation in sports and encourage more girls and women to join.
Source: Tolo News 10/16/2020