Written by Maryam Qasemi:
On Saturday July 16, there was an Afghan European football tournament in Koln, The Afghan Cup Koln. Our staff decided that it was a good opportunity to promote our National Women’s team and to do some fundraising as well.
Stas Hub, our Technical Director came to pick me up at my home, so my parents invited her for breakfast before going to Koln. During breakfast we got to know each other better and talked about our project, the Afghan Women’s National Football Team.
When we got to Koln, we were introduced to Mr. Zamani, organizer of the tournament. He told us where we could set up. Bahara and Rina were also present. They traveled with Bahara’s brother who was participating in the tournament with his team. Last time we saw each other was at the Amsterdam event, so I was very happy to see them again. We talked a lot, watched some games and played a bit with a football as well.
It was nice to see the teams play and it gave us the urge of getting on that field to play football.
We drew a lot of attention being there. A lot of people didn’t realise that Afghanistan has a Women’s National team. Hearing this made me a little sad. However it also gave me a boost, to go out there and let everyone know.
When they found out that we play for the National team, a lot of people wanted to take pictures with us. I think we have some new fans.
We also did a few interviews for local newspapers and a TV channel. I’m sure that we now will reach even more people. During the interviews I explained that we, as Afghan women, can play as well and that the game is not only for men.
As we explained our project we received a lot of positive comments, compliments and moral support from players and spectators. A few people had a negative point of view but we made sure that by the time we were done talking to hem, they had changed their minds. And if there were still negative comments, we just concentrated on the positive reactions.
We also met with the coach of the AFF Men’s National Team, Peter Sergt and one of his players Masih Saighani.
It was a pleasure to see that we all stand together as a Nation, even though our country is bleeding. We all want what is best for each other.
My parents and my little brother joined us later that day and they could see me shine, see me be happy when I represented our team.
It was a nice day with nice and friendly people and it was a lot of fun.
We felt a bit famous and they even made us sign two footballs. This was my first experience in handing out signatures.
It was an honor being there as a player of the Afghan Women’s National team.