How Afghanistan women’s football teammade it to Australia
This was the year women’s football in Afghanistan reached the first stage of its long-running national development process.
Afghanistan’s women’s football team qualified for the 2011 World Cup in Germany through a combination of individual performances and a collective team effort.
Their performances were enough to qualify for the first time in their country’s history. It was their only appearance at a major tournament outside of Asia.
In 2012, the Afghanistan national football team will play in the Asian Club Championship in the United Arab Emirates. They will also make their debut in the Asian Cup, a continental competition for regional teams.
They have been playing a brand of football that is almost entirely restricted to women’s team play and has received little attention from media outside of Afghanistan or Asian football’s regional press. They were the most decorated team in the history of women’s football in Afghanistan until last year, when the national team won its first-ever Asian Championship.
I spoke to a number of female coaches, players and administrators about the first decade of professional women’s football in the country.
“It is very difficult to organize matches,” said Saba Akhund, president of the Afghanistan Football Federation Women’s Department.
“The Afghan team had to prepare for seven months before the Afghanistan-Pakistan match. We had to work very hard and we had to travel around. On the other hand, Pakistanis can train their women’s teams almost on the day that they are born.”
“There is a lot of pressure on a national team like Afghanistan’s but that does not mean it is easy,” said Khwaja Farahmand, a top Afghanistan player.
“We were competing with all the big teams in the country but sometimes we were not even able to reach even the final of a cup. We don’t know how much credit to be given to our supporters. They must support us more than the opposition to make sure we win.”
Women’s football has its roots in the 1970s when the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) was formed. The AFF is a body that provides the governance, structure and promotion of women’s football in Afghanistan. The AFF includes the Afghan national federation and a