Things improving for women footballers in Afghanistan: Yalda

Published November 16, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Afghan footballer Yalda Arghandiwal.—Photo by Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: Afghan footballer Yalda Arghandiwal.—Photo by Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

AFGHANISTAN defender Yalda Arghandiwal says a decade ago it was next to impossible for girls to play football in the war-torn country, but now things have changed.

“Last four years have been the best for Afghan women’s team in term of participating in international events,” said Yalda, who came from the US to represent her country at the SAFF women’s championship being played at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad.

Speaking to Dawn, the 20-year-old defender said that women football has been improving in her country but still there is a lot of work to be done to promote this game.

“Still in various parts of Afghanistan, there is a cultural restriction on women for playing football,” said Yalda.

Addressing her team-mates, she said: “Girls, you have to stand up on your feet and fight for yourself and never give up because patience is the key to life. If people discourage you, just remember one day you can play for national women’s team which is a big honour.”

Yalda, who was born in 1994 in Afghanistan, further said that she loved playing football since her childhood days, but cultural restriction kept her away from her favourite game for many years.

“I still remember, I eagerly watched soccer matches on TV, but at that time I could not think about playing.”

Yalda said that late in year 2004, her family moved to USA where she started playing football on a regular basis.

Talking about the dismal show of Pakistan and Afghanistan teams in the on-going SAFF championship, Yalda said: “Both countries are new in women football. India and Nepalese women teams have been playing the game since the last three decades that’s why they are good. With the passage of time we will also improve.”

In reply to a question about the arrangements for the mega event, she said that Pakistan has done an amazing job in hosting the SAFF tournament. “I feel very safe here, we have security with us no matter where we go,” said Yalda. “The organisers are providing us with the best facilities for practice and very good meals.”

Like Yalda, five other players including goalkeeper Wida Zemarai, Marjan, Bahara Qoerayshie who are settled in foreign countries are representing their team in ongoing championship on the request of Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF).

“I hope women football will further improve as our new President Ashraf Ghani is taking good steps for the promotion of the game.”

Asked about Afghan president’s ongoing two-day visit to Pakistan, she said: “I’m happy to hear that our president is also here in Islamabad. I hope his visit will further improve bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries which have same culture, same religion and same traditions,” said Yalda.

Published in Dawn, November 16th , 2014

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