It had many setbacks. The team was virtually non-existent for many years, as the men’s team gained international recognition and world status.
That was until the end of last year, when 25 players were signed to play for the national team.
It was not without hard work, resilience and perseverance by Afghan women and their male champions, despite cultural constraints. Some peers were uncomfortable with the concept of women playing sports in public.
Roya Samim, one of 25 players who had been given a contact from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), said she faced many obstacles on her way to cricket.
“It was very difficult for us in the past,” she told SBS News in Dari.
“In the first years I started playing, people, the public, were against women who played cricket. Even family – they always said ‘women have no right to play cricket’.
“We weren’t even allowed to take a cricket bat in public. But slowly, slowly, we started so people got used to the idea.”
But the public discomfort is a far cry from what they face today: the uncertainty of their rights under a Taliban government.
Afghan women put cricket dreams on hold after Taliban takeover
Mrs. Sangar chose not to wait and see what lay ahead. Feeling she had no choice but to flee the country, she left two weeks ago on an evacuation flight to Canada.
She’s not alone.
Reading the signs as the Taliban fell district by district in the weeks leading up to the takeover of the capital Kabul, Ms. Samim left the country with her two sisters, one of whom was also contracted by the ACB.
Ms. Samim says it was not an easy decision. When she learned that the Taliban had taken over Herat, where some of her teammates lived, she said they cried to her on the phone.
“‘What’s happening to us?’ they said,” she told SBS News of her conversations with her teammates.
“We can never play cricket again, even if we can’t go out,” they said. I can’t explain what I felt that day.’
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan appeared to spell the end of women’s sports in the country after the deputy head of the group’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said women should not be allowed to play sports where they could be “exposed” to the media. .
But in an apparent downturn, ACB chairman Azizullah Fazli said the organization had not received a Taliban directive banning women from playing cricket, and that “no restriction” has currently been imposed.
“We have not received any instruction [that] women’s cricket faces challenges,” he told SBS Pashto.
“Even before [the Taliban takeover]”If Afghan female players played any sport, they have always followed the Islamic dress code.”
Ms. Sangar said she was not surprised by the Taliban command, but was heartbroken nonetheless.
“All the sacrifices, difficulties and work we have put into it, it has come to nothing,” she said.
“It was like a balloon you give to a child to watch him float in the sky. It’s like all our dreams have disappeared.”
Ms. Samim says she is afraid for her teammates and the future of women’s sport in Afghanistan.
She has urged Cricket Australia and other countries to help her teammates, including by helping them train in a third country where they are safe.
“Anyone who wants to help them should do so very quickly,” she said.
“They deserve to be happy, they deserve to be safe.”
A pro-Taliban protest was held in Kabul this weekend after the group announced that women would only be allowed to attend university in segregated classes and dressed in an outfit that would cover most of their faces.
A similar uniform edict would make it extremely difficult for women to play cricket, Ms Samim said.
“It is not the word of Islam that we should cover our faces,” Ms Samim said, adding that in the past women could play with a hijab and loose uniforms.
Fazli has suggested that Afghan players can follow the Islamic dress code introduced in countries such as Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The situation continues to affect the country’s men’s team, with Cricket Australia still poised to cancel November’s historic test match between the two countries.
A spokesman for Cricket Australia told SBS News they remained in “regular dialogue with our colleagues at the ACB”.
The board of the International Cricket Council will meet next month to discuss the matter.
For her part, Ms. Samim still hopes that Afghanistan will soon be able to play against the best teams in the world.
“I imagine that one day we will have a big game in the world against a famous country like Australia, Bangladesh or India,” she said.
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