Enos Dastger can’t talk about the country in which he was born, he says from his hometown of Arnhem. “I am very tired and sad.” Dastgir is the Dutch national coach for the Afghanistan national football team. His family still lives in Afghanistan, with which he built a new sports structure in recent years.
Dastgir has been busy rebuilding the national football team since 2018. He managed to bring together different ethnic groups to play together. The results came so that there was a possibility of a historic participation in the Asian Cup in 2023.
caught and shaved
Sports, football and cricket in particular have in recent years become a source of hope and a form of distraction in a country wracked with extreme misery. During the first period the Taliban were in power (1996-2001), the sport was somewhat banned. It did not fit their strict Islamic laws. Only under certain conditions, with long pants and long sleeves, can men play soccer. A Pakistani soccer team was arrested in Kandahar at the time, then had its beard shaved by Taliban police for playing in too-shorts.
How the Taliban would deal with sport after seizing power was still somewhat uncertain. But in an interview with Australia’s SBS, the head of Kabul’s new cultural committee, Ahmadullah Wasiq, put an end to the women’s fantasies. Sports will be prohibited for them, in any case without a full body covering. It is immoral and unnecessary, according to the Taliban.
“In cricket, their faces and bodies may not be covered. Islam does not allow women to see in this way,” Al-Wasq said. “We live in the age of media. Photos and videos will be taken and then people will look at them. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow cricket or other sports in which parts of the body are exposed.”
Due to the ban, the Australian Cricket Association immediately canceled the friendly match against the Afghan men’s team on Thursday. The Taliban gave permission for that match on November 27 last week. “Our vision is that cricket is a sport for everyone and we are unequivocal in the participation of women at all levels,” said Cricket Australia. Richard Kolbeck, Australia’s sports minister, has called on international sporting authorities, such as the ICC Cricket Association, to protest the measure.
Athletes flee the country
Many Afghan (senior) athletes have already fled the country in recent weeks, or are in hiding. At the beginning of this month, a secret operation allowed taekwondoka Zakiya Khodadadi to participate in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. I managed to escape from Kabul just in time, as did the athlete Hossein Rasouli. This week, 25 cyclists from the Afghan national team arrived in the United Arab Emirates. “I left Afghanistan because I was no longer sure of my life as an athlete. It’s not safe for us there,” one contestant told CNN. She wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons.
The International Olympic Committee says it has now brought about 100 VIP athletes from Afghanistan abroad on humanitarian visas. This includes all participants in the recent Games and Paralympics and athletes who were preparing for the Beijing Winter Games. “They can continue to train,” said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.
Several girls who played soccer have gone into hiding, Afghan-Swedish coach Weda Zimmerai recently said in a video to NOS. She was in contact with women and girls who were in a shelter in fear. “They look strong, have shorts and don’t look feminine. Now they fear reprisals,” Zimmerai said. Khaleda Popal, the head of Afghan women’s football, made an appeal from Copenhagen to all sportswomen in her country to delete social media accounts and photos from their phones and burn their shirts.
‘The Dutch can join a new evacuation flight from Kabul’
Dutch passport holders were also given permission to leave Afghanistan on a new evacuation flight from Kabul.