Bend it like Beckham

Khadija, Azadeh and Fowzia are unlike many other women in Afghanistan. For they belong to the first Afghan women’s football team ever. The German Football Federation has financed women’s football in the country since 2003. Now there are over eighteen women’s teams.

But in an Islamic country like Afghanistan, women and football is an uneasy combination. Women can only play behind closed doors or outside under the safeguard of high walls. No strange men are allowed to watch. Proper locations are so scarce that several teams of different ages must train together. Setting up a national league is difficult with travel restrictions often put down to women by their families. Finding a field where a match can be held is not easy either.

Clothes must cover arms and reach the ankles and the headscarf must stay put.

The women that play have overcome many hurdles before being able to do what they love best. Without the permission of their parents such would not be possible, and still then, brothers, uncles and neighbours often complain that football is not a thing for women to do.

Many of the players on top, fear the fundamentalists that still exercise much influence in the country and prefer to keep low key. Still, they bend it.

© 2006