We face extreme challenges that are often
"Life or Death" for our players
A recent BBC study found Taliban fighters are openly active in 70% of Afghanistan, directly affecting the lives of 15 million people -- half the population. That threatens the freedom women have enjoyed since the regime was overthrown in 2001.
Daily bombings and acts of terrorism make getting too and from training extremely challenging
Women in Afghanistan are spat upon, verbally abused, and even stoned
Women who aim to get an education or play sport often receive death threats in Afghanistan
Our Players often perform their individual fitness training in their bedrooms, beacuse they are nto allowed to use public facilities and it is not safe to leave the home and train alone
Prior to 2005, there were NO OPPORTUNITIES for women to engage in sport in Afghanistan
Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) does not actively work to improve the quality of programming, create new opportunities, or know how to build a sustainable future for the women's national and youth national team programs
Cultural Support is a constant challenge;
The Afghan Community discourages females from basic human rights; women have no place being outside the home and pursuing an education, career or athletic endeavors
Arranged Marriages force our players to retire from playing in their teens and early 20s
Earning Family Support is a challenge, as men often receive death threats and abuse for allowing their daughters to participate with the team
Every Training Camp is funded through Fundraising Efforts by the
Coaching Staff and Team
AFF does not fully fund the Women's National Team, the majority of all funding to support opportunities for the women come from Fundraising and Sponsorship efforts of the coaching staff and team
Due to Safety Concerns, we must host every camp outside of Afghanistan with team travel costs averaging $60K per camp
We work closely with other Federations to help support the expenses
Afghanistan WNT est.
Captain Khalida Popal went door to door asking families if their daughters could play
No Team Activities
Khalida Popal was exiled from the country for raising the profile of women's rights through football
Afghanistan Football Federation provided no opportunities for the WNT to compete
2010 - 2014
Players Pioneer a Comeback
Players asked the exiled Khalida Popal to lead them
AFF start women's football committee and gain membership into the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
Journey of Re-Building the Afghanistan WNT
Khalida Popal started from nothing and formed a volunteer International Coaching Staff
Staff fund raised for global recruitment of players who could Pioneer the future of the Afghanistan WNT
Arrived in India with a brand new team and only three days to prepare before competing against the Top Two Teams in SAFF: India and Bangladesh
No Team Activities
AFF created zero new opportunities for the WNT to compete or train
Staff focused on building relationships across Asia and the Middle East to build new opportunities
Team Training Camps:
Jordan, Japan, UAE
Team currently fundraising to ensure we host Training Camps
Together trailblazing to build sustainability for the future
Create Opportunities - Empower Equality - Transform Lives
Goal: Host Three Training Camps: Jordan, Japan, and UAE
Achieved: Hosted February Training Camp in Jordan
80% Team Travel Expenses
5% Team Equipment
5% Medical Equipment
Why We Play / Why Your Support Matters?
Our Why: We play to create hope and opportunities for women in Afghanistan to live their full potential - to learn and believe that it is safe to leave the home and pursue goals and dreams!
Every dollar is invested in building programs that directly educate, empower, and engage Afghan Women in developing their hopes and dreams to "be the change" they wish to see in their country.
Donate through: Soccer Without Borders
Soccer Without Borders is a USA 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN 20-3786129
Former Team Captain
As former leader of Afghanistan Women’s Football, Khalida is still “Captaining” the team, just from the Director role these days. Khalida is our inspiration as she provides the perspiration and a never-ending drive to build a better future for the women of Afghanistan. She serves on the Afghanistan Project with hummel International and works with many non-profit organizations to support women’s empowerment and refugee causes. She founded the Girl Power Organization and is beyond truly amazing!
”Football changed my life, gave me confidence and courage. I was forced to leave my country, but never gave up the very important fight ... the very important fight of my life to stand for women!"
Kelly was a former WUSA #1 Draft Pick professional player for the San Jose CyberRays. She captained the University of Notre Dame team and came up through the ranks of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Kelly has coached women’s soccer around the world at the professional, collegiate, and youth national team levels. Her true passion lies in “elevating lives through sport!” Kelly’s deep belief in this group of women to transform their nation and inspire young girls globally to live their dreams is why she joined the mission!
”I often ask myself, would I die to play? These women put their lives and the lives of their families on the line to play ... It is bigger than football, it is about transforming a mentality -- these women are trailblazers for the future equality of women in Afghanistan!"
Haley is a former reserve goalkeeper for the NWSL’s Houston Dash and the U.S. Naval Academy. Empowering women in the Middle East and Central Asia through sport has been a passion of hers since her service in the Marine Corps.
John is a Senior Biomechanist at NASA Johnson Space Center in the Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Laboratory and the Head Performance Coach for the Houston Dynamo Academy.
Joelle is a Sports Certified Specialist for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in Frisco, Texas. Joelle has worked with athletes at all levels from youth to professional and is a firm believer that sport has the power to influence and improve the female athlete in many facets.
Thanks to playing for the Afghan national women's team, it has been quite easy for me to get a job. I have been able to represent Afghanistan in other countries, like Maldives, Germany, Pakistan and some few other countries. If I haven't played for the Afghan national team, I don't think I could have this opportunity to represent my country.
There are thousands of young girls in Afghanistan, who dream of becoming a football player but because of circumstances, it's not that easy for them to fulfill their dreams. Together with the rest of national team staff, we will do our best that they will succeed in fulfilling their dreams.
I will try to encourage, help, support the players in the national team to be good role models for the next generation.
My future with this team, is to develop the players, find new talents, support the players, give them love and support.
There are young girls everywhere who love to play football but not dare or not allowed. With the help of this program/team we can succeed in getting them out of the house and onto fulfilling their dreams on and off the field.
"Show that playing football is no crime, it's fellowship, love, pride, and equality! If you love something never look back, just go forward!"
As the captain of the Afghan Women’s National team (AWNT), I have had the opportunity to travel to many different countries. I have visited these countries not only to play as part of the AWNT, but as a witness to the many different cultures, the different voices of leaders of other women’s national teams, the pride that has grown for my country, and the growth I have achieved through this program.
I look back to when I first started playing for the AFWNT to see how much I have changed, not only to better myself, or even my country, but for all the younger girls that may look up to a female leader.
I was once a timid little girl that first embarked on her trip from Afghanistan to a new country far away from my comfort zone. I continued with my shy demeanor well into high school and only started to learn to break out of my shell when I started playing for the AWNT.
I have not just simply played soccer throughout my years with the AWNT. I have built character, leadership skills, self awareness, courage, and more importantly, a vision, a vision to change mindset towards women in a male dominant country. I found hope through team. I found unity and strength through friends, not only on the field but also off the field. I found my voice to help carry on to the next timid little girl on the sidelines.
"We want to inspire small girls, be a factor that keeps them closer to their dream. We want to show women they can come out of their house and out of their comfort zone and show them there is no danger in pursuing their dreams."
This program has been instrumental in my growth and development as a person and player through my leadership role on the team. Being a leader has had a very important impact on all areas of my life inclusive to my academics and other community development initiatives I am involved with.
As a member of the Afghan WNT leadership council I have been humbled to always give my input in developing a stronger team both on and off the field as well as setting the tone for our fellow teammates. This opportunity comes with great responsibilities and it has really allowed me to take valuable lessons away from my journey with the team. Along the way I have personally went through my best moments from scoring in my debut to the most frustrating moments with injuries. One thing that remains the same is my commitment and hope towards something special for the program.
The improvement in the last two years has been phenomenal and we are still a work in progress, however, this program has been more than just football. It’s been a life changer for many, and a source of inspiration for others. Despite many obstacles we continue to persevere as a unit. I am truly thankful for everyone’s support and the staffs continued efforts to make this a sustainable program.
"Representing the Afghan WNT has truly been an honour. It has not only connected me with my roots & my family’s roots but has also been instrumental in my growth as a person and player. I hope that through our efforts we can continue to empower women all over the world."
“If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough”- Muhammed Ali
This is a quote that influenced me to always dream big and never give up. I am a Muslim woman with an Afghan origin who lives a Western lifestyle. I love soccer and I are fortunate to be a part of the Afghan national team which is a huge honor. These facts are sometimes difficult to handle, because people challenge my identity, but with every doubter I am also challenged to go forward and give my very best.
Especially hearing the stories of my fellow teammates who live in Afghanistan where women’s football is not completely supported or accepted. Their daily challenges changed my point of view in many ways. I have the utmost respect for these girls who risk their lives to play football. They taught me that you should never take things for granted, should always be thankful for what you have in life and when allowed the opportunity - fight for those that don't get the same.
I am proud and happy to have such a great and professional coaching staff, without their help we would not be able to continue our program. Together we are Unbreakable.
"This team has encouraged me to set an example for many women in these countries, and especially in Afghanistan. I’m very proud for who I am and where I come from. I am very grateful that my family and friends gave me the strength to always give my very best to make differences in this world, and I hope to be the change."
Having the opportunity to play for Afghanistan has been an absolute honour and a privilege. It has opened doors for me to play college football and attend one of the top colleges in British Columbia, while providing me the ability to travel and experience different cultures that not many have the opportunity to explore. Being a full time student athlete has taught me valuable lessons in life, for managing time to managing professional and personal priorities, which will in turn help me in my future academic and professional career.
Afghanistan, primarily known as a war zone, is a rapidly growing country, and with a population that is predominantly male, women struggle to have a voice. Very few women in Afghanistan are allowed to participate in organized sports, this makes me feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to represent my country in a sport that I am so passionate about. I'm honoured to be part of a historic time, to be to be part of a greater mission which will benefit the future generations of Afghan women. To hear stories of hardship women have to go through in Afghanistan makes me want to train harder, play harder, fight more for our country!
As a team and as a country we are incredibly fortunate to have such a professional coaching staff that strives to make a difference in our country, a country that is not their own. To have coaches that share the same passion and goals as you develops a strong sense of unity.
I strive to aspire that one day a little girl will pick up a football and say she wants to be part of the Afghanistan Women's National Team, and she will have the freedom to do so. My goal as a national team player is to empower young woman through sports in Afghanistan. My name is Sadaf Ataullah Baresh and I have a voice.
"We are the Voice of the Voiceless - and we take that seriously."
I am honoured to be able to represent the country where my roots are from. My family is filled with pride to see their home country in such a good light for a change and to see our team representing it. You play to make the people in your country, your family’s country, have a change in their grim daily life and you play to create a moment of happiness, hope and pride for them.
We, as a team, aspire to become the beacon of hope, resilience, and unity. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can make an impact in this world. Our country has been through a lot. We want to help and show as a role model that women can do much.
In Afghanistan, women must fight for their human rights. We also notice that with our teammates from Afghanistan. It has made them tougher. Persistent, determined, energetic and assertive. This is admirable and has a positive effect on the mentality of the team. It makes us strong, and a tight-knit community. Being a part of this team and hearing their stories changed my own worldview significantly. It was an eye-opening experience that made me live more consciously.
We are incredibly lucky to have such a professional and experienced coaching staff by our side. They give their utmost to make us reach our full potential and they support us endlessly to be successful. Even though our staff is all American, their desire for growth and change in Afghanistan is impeccable.
It fills my heart with joy to think that one day I could inspire a little girl to pick up a ball or inspire a woman to go outside and overcome her fear of retaliation.
"As a part of this team and mission, I act as a role model for girls and women who are trying to overcome barriers and reach their full potential. We have a chance to make a difference, and we must not let anything restrict us when it comes to equality and empowerment of the women in Afghanistan and around the world."
We appreciate your support and need all the help we can get for a very challenging journey.
A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS
Breaking Down Barriers - Building Sustainable Opportunities - Empowering Young Women
SUPPORT these TRAILBLAZERS:
Women's Rights, Equality, and Opportunity!