Surrey Women Planning to Host Afghanistan Development team in Dorking

Her Game Too was founded by football fans to tackle and call out the sexist and misogynistic abuse suffered by women and girls in football. (HerGameToo) Studies show that 64% of girls quit sport around the ages of 16-17. (GM Moving) The right to play sport is for everyone and the struggle for that right has been felt by sportswomen in Afghanistan for decades.

In 2007 the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee established the first Afghanistan national women’s team, made up of players from Kabul and in 2010 they played their first official fixture against Nepal in the 2010 SAFF Women’s Championship, in August 2021, that dream looked bleak as the Taliban captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, and women’s sports in Afghanistan abruptly ended.

International Surrey Football is therefore delighted to announce that we will be hosting the Afghanistan Women’s Development Team in a friendly fixture on Sunday 29th May at the Meadowbank Stadium in Dorking, which will also mark our Surrey Women’s first full debut since playing their opening trial game against the University of Surrey in 2021 which was won 8-1 by the county team. The game in Dorking will also be Surrey’s first game where fans will be able to attend and support the team on such an important occasion.

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The Afghanistan Women’s Development team is made up of players forced to leave their homes in Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces and the withdrawal of NATO forces in August 2021. The team had been planning to compete in the under-23 Central Asian Football Federation’s women’s championship, unfortunately, those plans fell apart suddenly with the Taliban’s quick advance on the Afghan capital in scenes many of us will remember. (The Athletic [Paywall])

This event placed all Afghan women’s players at immediate risk, with many players encouraged to destroy their own kit to protect themselves and not be identifiable as footballers. Fortunately, many of the players and their families were able to safely leave Afghanistan, the women’s first team, now based in Melbourne, Australia and recently admitted to the regional Victoria football competition with assistance from A-League side Melbourne Victory FC. (ESPN) As well as some Afghan women’s youth teams that were able to safely relocate to Portugal. (ITV News)

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Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Women’s Development team were initially unable to be evacuated to the UK. The team went into hiding on their journey to Kabul’s airport. They were at the airport when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a gate on the perimeter, killing 170 Afghan nationals as well as 13 US service members. It wasn’t until they had managed to safely cross the border into neighbouring Pakistan that they were able to leave for the UK with the help of Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani that the team were able to reach the UK and are able to train at Leeds United FC. (The Guardian)

The Afghanistan Development team recently enjoyed a trip to London with a game against the UK Parliamentary Women’s team with assistance from Amnesty International and played at Dulwich Hamlet and included a visit to Westminster. The Afghan team won every game they played against the British MPs. (Amnesty UK)

The plan to bring the team to Surrey isn’t over just yet, with travel and accommodation costs to cover for what is being planned as a 2-day trip for the Afghan players, International Surrey Football will be running a crowdfunding campaign, as well as seeking donations, to help contribute towards the travel and accommodation expenses for their stay in Dorking.

As well as individual donations, larger corporate donors can contact us directly to discuss sponsorship opportunities as well as to help cover the various costs for travel and accommodation.

Donations can be made to: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/afghanistan-to-dorking-football

Interested sponsors can contact us at info@intsurreyfootball.co.uk to help cover travel, accommodation, and other matchday-related expenses.

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