Over thirty members of the Afghanistan Women’s youth team are now headed for a new life in the UK.
Football for Peace and partners had galvanised the UK professional football sector after an appeal from the former Afghanistan captain Khalida Popal. The joint objective was to get the girls out of the country via Pakistan to the UK, after Kashif Siddiqi wrote an appeal to the Pakistani and UK Governments.
Kashif Siddiqi former Pakistan International, Co-founder of Football for Peace and Football Diplomat said: “I’m so relieved that working with our partners, the Government of Pakistan, and the UK, we have together all ‘scored the winning goal’ and are bringing the girls to the Home of Football.”
Khalida Popal, spokesperson of Girl Power, said: “The girls have been through a lot. They have had a very, very tough journey. They have been through a lot of stress and risk – hiding them in a hostel in Kabul and being displaced from their homes.”
ROKiT Foundation and Play for Change have provided sponsorship whilst in Pakistan, as was their pledge that initiated this mission to resettle players in their new homes in the UK. Premier League sides and other football clubs will welcome the Afghan women’s youth team and support them in furthering their education and integration.
Sui Anne Marie Gill – CEO of ROKiT Foundation said: “On behalf of the Jonathan Kendrick and ROKiT Foundation, we are really proud to have worked with providing safe passage and lifesaving support to the Afghan women youth team and their families. We are honoured to be a part of this incredible journey.”
Andrea Radrizzani, Chairman of Leeds United and President of Play for Change Foundation said: “Football is a powerful tool in building communities and bridging divides. Unfortunately, we have seen the opposite of this unfold in Afghanistan where the Afghan Girls’ Development National Youth Football Team has had to flee persecution. We have supported to give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future.”