Female players from Afghanistan’s junior national soccer team have crossed the border into Pakistan.
The girls had been hiding for a month due to fears of a Taliban crackdown on women’s rights.
The adult team reportedly flew out of Kabul last month, but the youth team was stranded due to a lack of passports and other documentation.
After lobbying the government on behalf of the charity “Football for Peace,” 32 players and their families were granted visas.
The group of 115 people will travel from Peshawar to the eastern city of Lahore, where they will be housed at the Pakistani Football Federation’s headquarters, according to officials.
The Independent recently revealed that the players had written to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan requesting permission to enter the country as soon as possible.
According to the letter, the girls face “grave threats” from the Taliban.
After the fall of Kabul, the national team’s former captain, Khalida Popal, advised players to delete pictures of themselves playing on social media and burn their kits to protect themselves from potential retaliation from the new regime.
In response to a question about the fate of the women’s cricket team, Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, cast doubt on the country’s future of women’s sport, saying it was neither appropriate nor necessary.
“In cricket, they may find themselves in a situation where their face and body are not covered. Islam forbids women from being portrayed in this manner “Wasiq stated.
“It is the media age, and there will be photos and videos, which people will watch. Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] forbid women from playing cricket or other sports that expose them.”
During the Taliban’s last reign, from 1996 to 2001, women were barred from participating in sports.
Their departure is part of a larger exodus of Afghan sports and cultural stars, who are fearful of a crackdown on women’s rights following the Taliban’s takeover of the country last month.
Along with the women’s football teams, the country’s biggest pop singer Aryana Sayeed and renowned film director Sahraa Karimi both left during the evacuation last month.