The Afghanistan women’s cricket team, a team of a small number of players in a country torn by conflict, have been travelling to India in hope of qualifying for the next round of the World Twenty20 tournament. But the team’s players have been advised to avoid public places, in case they are attacked by Taliban supporters. Despite the security risk, the team is pulling out all the stops in the hope of reaching the Cricket World Cup finals in India in 2020.
Afghanistan Women’s Cricket Team
In Kabul, a Taliban fighter passes through a beauty shop where women’s pictures have been vandalized.
Asel and a large number of her international teammates have fled the country. Her actual name isn’t Asel. Taliban militants have already arrived in Kabul in search of Afghanistan’s women’s cricket squad.
“Right now, any lady playing cricket or any other sport is not secure,” she adds. “The situation in Kabul is dire.
“We have a WhatsApp group where we speak about our issues and make plans for what we should do every night. All of us are hopeless.”
Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in mid-August, Asel hasn’t left her house and has hidden her cricket equipment. She describes how one of her teammates in the city was targeted.
“Some individuals who know them in the hamlet where they play cricket are working with the Taliban. When the Taliban seized Kabul, they threatened them, saying, “If you attempt to play cricket again, we will come and murder you.” “Asel explains.
Taqwa, who also goes under a pseudonym, has a long history in Afghan women’s cricket. After Kabul fell, she was able to leave the country. She went from home to house in the week leading up to her release to avoid being discovered. Her father was contacted by the Taliban, but he said that he had not been in touch with her.
She adds, “I don’t want to think about what would’ve occurred.” “When the Taliban took over Kabul, I went a week without eating or sleeping.”
“I wasn’t only thinking about myself; I was also concerned for my daughters. They are putting their lives and education on the line. Some even refused to marry in order to play for Afghanistan. I’m extremely concerned about their safety.”
Playing cricket as an Afghan woman meant much more than getting wickets and scoring runs for another former player, Hareer, who spoke to the media under an assumed identity.
“I feel like a powerful lady when I play,” she adds. “I am self-assured and proud of myself.”
“I see myself as a woman who can do anything, who can realize her ambitions.”
Those aspirations, though, may have come to an end for Hareer and the rest of the Afghanistan women’s cricket squad.
When there appeared to be so much optimism little over a year ago, they now worry for their safety and feel abandoned by the sports authorities who they think can assist.
In Afghanistan, the growth of cricket had looked like a fantastic tale. The International Cricket Council (ICC) only awarded the country associate status in 2001, a year after the Taliban removed their ban on the sport. Soon after, the Taliban was deposed, and cricket, along with other sports like as football, flourished.
“If we go back over the past 20 years, we’ve had wars, suicide attacks, and a slew of other issues, but the one time the whole country was joyful, they were emotionally engaged… was during sport,” Emal Pasarly, editor of Pashto, said on The Sports Desk podcast in August.
“Only sport provided a moment or a location where people might be joyful and forget about everything else going on around them.”
As Afghanistan’s men’s team started a spectacular ascent on the international scene in the 2000s, cricket mania developed throughout the country. Street celebrations erupted throughout the nation as they qualified for the 2015 World Cup in Australia. They were given Test status in 2017. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, for example, have become worldwide icons and are loved across the country.
In 2010, Afghanistan’s first national women’s squad was established. They were met with opposition from the start.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) initially barred the women’s squad from competing in numerous international competitions, citing “Taliban concerns.”
The squad did go to Tajikistan in 2012 for a six-team regional competition, which they won. However, they were forced to close their doors two years later. The decision was once again blamed on Taliban threats, according to the ACB.
Afghan girls playing cricket in their school grounds in Kabul, around 2010.
Despite the team’s disbandment, girls and young women throughout Afghanistan continued to play on improvised wickets. And the ACB still maintained a tiny team in charge of organizing women’s matches.
However, the same issues plagued this new crop of female cricketers.
Many in the ACB, according to Hareer, were not supportive of the ladies and would only organize matches for them if they “begged them to do it.” She claims that members of the board would also educate women on how to behave on the field.
“I’m a bowler, and I can’t scream and appear delighted when I take a wicket because there are guys watching me,” she adds.
“I have to keep my emotions under check; I can’t scream my support for my teammates; I can’t help them. ‘You should not rejoice, scream, or strike postures,’ they advise.”
However, as the men’s team’s prominence rose, the ACB had to begin treating the women’s game more seriously. The International Cricket Council requires each of its 12 full members, of which Afghanistan became one in 2017, to have a national women’s squad. In November 2020, 25 female cricketers were given contracts as a result of this.
A new dawn seemed to be on the horizon for women’s cricket in Afghanistan only ten months ago. That optimism seems to have fizzled out.
The Taliban banned virtually all education for girls and women under their previous reign, from 1996 to 2001 (girls were not permitted to attend school beyond the age of eight), and women were forbidden to work or leave the home without the presence of a male relative.
While the Taliban has attempted to present a more moderate image this time around, women’s participation in sports remains unlikely. The Taliban have expressed support for the men’s squad, according to the ACB’s chief executive officer, Hamid Shinwari, who has received permission to play their first-ever Test against Australia in Hobart in November. He did say, though, that he expects the women’s team to be defeated. This would be a violation of Afghanistan’s International Criminal Court membership.
On August 21, an American military aircraft transporting evacuees prepares to leave Kabul airport.
Like the 50 female athletes evacuated by the Australian government in August, Afghanistan’s female cricketers want to escape Taliban control. Fifa, the global governing body of football, has said that it is “negotiating the complicated evacuation” of players and other sportsmen from Afghanistan.
“We are, as you would expect, in regular touch with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, and we’re watching the issue and have given our assistance,” an ICC spokesperson said.
However, Taqwa claims that the ICC has not had direct contact with the country’s female cricketers, and that the ACB has showed little concern in their well-being.
“The ICC has never been helpful to us and has always disappointed us. The ICC is in talks with individuals who are opposed to women’s cricket, such as the new ACB chairman “She mentions Azizullah Fazli, who was appointed after the Taliban took control.
“The next government will decide,” Mr Shinwari replied when asked whether the ACB still supports women’s cricket.
Despite their current position, Asel is optimistic that the squad will be able to reunite. When Hareer speaks about her hopes for a brighter future, she comes to life.
She declares, “I want to be an international cricket player.”
“I want to be a powerful Afghan lady who can make a difference in other people’s lives. I wish to serve as an inspiration to other Afghan women and girls. In Afghanistan, I’d want to influence the attitudes of at least a few guys. All I want to do is be proud of myself.”
“There are obstacles in Afghan society that influence women’s athletics,” Asel continues. Women are said to be weak and not built to play cricket. They must marry, have children, work at home, and raise their children. They have to look after their spouses.
“Some members in my family also claim I can’t play since it’s against Islamic tradition for a woman to play cricket.” However, I adore it.
“We’re in a terrible position.” But there remains hope as long as we are alive. We’ll start again if we’re taken out of the nation and taken someplace else.
“Inshallah [if Allah wills], we will not give up on our aspirations.”
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- afghanistan capital
- afghanistan map
- indian cricket team
- afghan government
- relative location of afghanistan