Afghanistan’s junior girls’ football team and their immediate families are due to leave Pakistan and settle in Britain after recently fleeing their homeland, the government said.
The team of around 35 young footballers, mostly teenagers, and their families – around 130 in total – narrowly missed the precipitous British airlift from Kabul in August, according to a UK-based charity. Uni that helps them.
The squad was able to flee in small groups to Pakistan “with the help of very brave people on the ground in Afghanistan,” said Jonathan Kendrick, chairman of the ROKiT conglomerate, whose foundation is providing assistance.
“From a humanitarian point of view, there was simply no option,” he said in a statement, noting that they were “in an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly position if they did not. could not find a way out of Afghanistan ”.
Pakistan granted the players temporary 30-day visas and they were transported to Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, from where they applied to settle in Britain.
“These young players, with whom we are in regular contact via video calls, are absolutely delighted and relieved to have had the opportunities that will open to them in their new life in the UK,” said Siu-Anne Marie. Gill of the ROKiT Foundation.
She added that he “will continue to support them as they settle into their new home in the coming weeks, including helping to organize additional studies, where possible.”
Gill said she hoped many players would try out with several professional women’s football teams in Britain who “have already expressed great interest in meeting them”.
“We are working to finalize visas for the Afghanistan women’s football team and look forward to welcoming them to the UK shortly,” a government spokesperson said.
Britain has airlifted more than 15,000 people – both British nationals and Afghan allies – to the war-torn country since the Taliban recaptured it in August.
Downing Street has also pledged to welcome up to 20,000 people in the coming years, including around 5,000 in the first year, as part of its Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program (ACRS).
“The government is committed to doing everything possible to support those who need it most, including vulnerable women and girls, and those at risk who have had to flee Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added. of the government.
The Home Office declined to say what type of visas the players would get and whether they were part of the ACRS.