Written by Maryam Qasemi:
On Saturday 16 July, 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 presented us 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 to play as well, getting on that field and play football.
We drew a lot of attention being there. A lot of people didn’t realize that Afghanistan has a Women’s National team. Hearing this made me a little sad but it gave me also a boost to go out there and let everybody know.
A lot of people wanted to take pictures with us when they found out that we play for the National team. 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 not only men can do this.
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 could see me shine; see me being happy, representing our team.
It was a nice day with nice and friendly people and it was a lot of fun.
We felt a bit like being famous and they even made us sign two footballs, my first experience in handing out signatures.
It was an honor being there as a player of the Afghan Women’s National team.