In an effort to share more about our team and our journey to this point, we have compiled a group of stories from our players and staff that outline the road they've taken to achieve this dream. The first of our stories is from Maria Babrakzai, a player currently living in Norway. This is her story. Her words. And we want to share it with the world!! Please stay tuned for even more stories about hope and football and why we're embarking on this journey together!
"My name is Maria Babrakzai and I'm 20 years old and living in Oslo, Norway.
I left my country with my family due to the war in Afghanistan, when I was 9 years old. It was difficult and dangerous to live in Afghanistan at that time. My father is from Pashtun Tribes.
Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan are the most uptight tribes in Afghanistan. The women nearly have no rights. Women are used to work and stay at home and the women has no right to be a part of any decisions, even the decision about their self.
I was 9 years old when we left Afghanistan to Pakistan. We went to Pakistan and lived as a refugee there in Refugee camp until we left for Norway. I missed my childhood in escaping from war and living in refugee camps.
In Norway we were living in one of the asylum centers, and while we were waiting for authorities to give us right to stay in Norway, I started playing football with other kids.
I loved football from then on, because football makes me happy and when I play football I feel I get so much energy and happiness. Football has magic, a magic of happiness.
When we got permission to stay in Norway, I told to my parents that I want to play football, both my parents was surprised when I said football they were expecting me to tell them I want to play basketball or volleyball.
Because both games are known as women’s game, but football was known as men’s game. Since my parents are well educated, open-minded, and supportive, especially my mother, she said yes, you should definitely go for it. She said to me “ you're strong girl and a strong fighter. You can do it, its your thing, go for it”.
They registered me in one of the clubs and I started playing professionally.
Due to studies I took a break for 3 years. But when I read in social media about Afghanistan Women's National Team I became very happy I was telling to myself I need to find way to come to that team, my country's team.
It was my dream from childhood to get chance to do something beautiful for my country and I finally read about it and I said, “ I can do it what ever it takes”.
I took contact with players and got chance to travel to Denmark and play for one of the Afghan clubs there. When I meet other Afghan girls and made friendship with them we played together.
That was one of my best moment and memory of my life. Playing football after 3 years, I got that magic again inside me the magic of happiness and excitement and freedom.
When I met those girls I got the news that after 3 months it will be an event in Amsterdam where the Afghanistan Women’s National coaches will come to that event and evaluate the Afghan players for the national team of Afghanistan.
I was very happy and felt that there is a chance to do something for my country, when I returned home after playing football in Denmark.
I went to one of the clubs by the name of Team Nes in Oslo Norway and I started again football. I went to gym I played every day even twice a day went to gym and run out to get back into shape I had 3 months. I got chance to go to Amsterdam and played football for try out of the national team. Yes I made it.
I had so much stress, so much fear, I was praying and playing hard to be selected in first player pool roaster.
I told myself that I will try my best if I cant make it this year next year 100% I can make it.
At the end of the Amsterdam event, what made me even stronger and serious about my career, it was the speech from the Coach of the National Team, Kelly, she told us “ when you have to decide between going out with your friends and training ask yourself which one is important for you first, is it football / training or going out with friends."
That speech made life easier for me every time when I have to choose between one of the options I choose the first one, which brings me, closer to my goals and dreams.
When I saw and read my name in first roster of the national team I was surprised I was crying of happiness. I wanted to fly and tell everybody that I got the chance to do something to my country and be involved in a big movement.
My parents saw my name in the list and they were very happy and supportive. My mom said "I knew that you can make it to the national team. And I know you will go further."
I am training hard, doing my best to make it to top 23 to play for my beautiful national team. I want to bring pride for my country.
The motivation in my life is when you want to achieve something you have to fight and work hard for it.
If a man can bring pride for our country why not women, we are strong women we can do it."