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Defying fundamentalists, Afghan women’s soccer team plays NATO team

Secret game is a small step to greater women’s rights in Afghanistan
Hans Henrik Lichtenberg
Sunday 31 October 2010

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A soccer match held on October 29 between the Afghan National Women’s Team and a NATO team is a huge step forward for equality in Afghanistan, says Danish Minister for Equality, Lykke Friis. She is a dedicated football fan, but the match, which was played in Afghanistan, has her very special interest. It is the Afghan national women soccer team to be on the pitch against a team composed of women NATO soldiers.

"I think you have to have live under conditions that many Afghan women have experienced, to understand how much it means for them to play a soccer game. It’s a huge step forward for equality in the country. This would not have been possible a few years ago," said Friis to the Danish press.

Afghan women’s soccer team in an earlier game
photo by Afghan Sports Federation

For safety reasons the match was held in a secret stadium, and the media who have been pre-briefed were told not to mention the event until after it had occurred to avoid terrorist attacks against the players. The captain of the Afghan national women soccer team, Khalida Popal, sees the competition as a part of the struggle for Afghan women’s rights.

"The game is very important for us because we want to show the world, that there are Afghans who are against war and for peace and happiness. We will make it clear to all the women of Afghanistan that they now can play football, "said the captain in an official statement.
The Afghan woman’s soccer team is ranked by FIFA.

Hans Henrik Lichtenberg, the author of this article, is a freelance journalist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Reach him at hh copenhagencorrespondent.com

Copenhagen Correspondent

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