Players from Afghanistan's women's youth development team follow hundreds of female athletes who have left the country since a takeover which has begun curbing women's freedoms.
Media mogul, Kim Kardashian may have saved the lives of more than 100 people by helping them escape to the UK. Teaming up with Premier League football club, Leeds United, Kim has helped an Afghan junior women's football team flee from the Taliban.
Players from Afghanistan's women's youth development team follow hundreds of female athletes who have left the country since a takeover which has begun curbing women's freedoms. The social media influencer paid for a flight that brought more than 30 teenage girls and their families to Britain.
Former captain of Afghanistan's national women's team, Khalida Popal, who has led evacuation efforts for female athletes, said, “The Afghan female footballers are well-known figures in the country. Their lives were in great danger because of people in the country who opposed their activism and wanted to stop their sport and educational activities.”
Popal and the players claim that some of the girls have been beaten and have had family members “taken” by the Taliban. Some have even had their homes burnt down. When previously speaking to Sky News, Narges, a player of the team said, “The Taliban were violent. They threatened us that: 'We don't know who you are but if you cannot pass the border, we will kill all of you here'.”
In their escape from the Taliban, the girls made it as far as Pakistan but needed help getting to Britain. Following its success of helping the last known member of Kabul's Jewish community leave Afghanistan, non-profit US group Tzedek Association stepped up to organise the flight.
Having worked with Kim on criminal justice reform in the US, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, founder of Tzedek Association, got in touch. “Maybe an hour later, after the Zoom call, I got a text message that Kim wants to fund the entire flight,” Mr Margaretten said. A spokesperson for Ms Kardashian told Sky News the star and her brand SKIMS chartered the flight.
Leeds United has offered to support the players, many of whom come from poor families in the country's provinces. Chairman, Andrea Radrizzani said he was “proud to be part of the team to make this real,” adding, “let's dream one day they will play in Leeds United.”
Upon receiving their visas into the UK, teammates Narges and Sabria said, “Our lives have been saved and we are eternally grateful to all.”
first chapter written today! When I received a call asking help to rescue the youth w team from Afghanistan,I didn’t know even from where to start. Today they flew to UK. Proud to be part of the team to make this real. Let’s dream one day they will play in @LUFC💛💙 pic.twitter.com/XLPv6IXByi— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) November 18, 2021
Welcome to UK to the young players and their family ( 130 people ) brilliant job from all the team and parties involved 💛💙 pic.twitter.com/Vy17rnaYAn— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) November 18, 2021