Afghanistan women play friendly football match in Hiroshima

by Yuji Yamamoto, Staff Writer

On September 20, the Afghanistan National Women’s Football Team, who have been training in Hiroshima, played a friendly match with the Ange Violet Hiroshima team (of Nadeshiko League Division 2) at EDION Stadium in Asaminami Ward. Although the team suffered a 14-0 defeat, its players played hard and were cheered on by many supporters in the stands.

The members of the Afghan women’s team appeared on the field with their skin covered by red-colored tights and scarves, with red one of the colors of their national flag. Although the Japanese team was in control of the ball for much of the game, the Afghan players were hard on their heels and their efforts were rewarded with cheers from the spectators, who applauded and waved Afghan flags.

Afghanistan has suffered from conflict for many years, and suicide bombings still occur to this day. Because of discrimination against women who take part in sports, the Afghan women’s team is unable to engage in enough practice. Formed just last year, the team is currently ranked 132nd in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings. Despite these conditions, the members of the team work hard, which lends hope and inspiration to the people of Afghanistan.

Amin Amini, the head coach of the Afghan team, said that they were pleased to be cheered on by Japanese supporters, and added that they will bring back what they learned from the Japanese team and share these skills with the other players in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Women’s Football Team was invited to Japan by the UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) Hiroshima Office to learn about peace and women’s participation in society through sports. On September 21, they will watch a professional baseball game with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the hometown team considered a symbol of the reconstruction of the A-bombed city, then return to their country on September 22.

(Originally published on September 21, 2015)