August 1, 2007 / 8:42 AM / 12 years ago

Afghan women's soccer team to play first overseas match

KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan women’s national soccer team will travel to Pakistan this month for their first ever international match abroad, their coach said on Wednesday.

The squad of 20 players and two female coaches will face neighbouring Pakistan in a friendly.

“This is the first time that Afghan women football players will go abroad for a match,” coach Abdul Saboor Walizada told Reuters.

Since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, Afghanistan has witnessed unprecedented personal freedoms.

The Taliban banned women not only from sports, but also education and most work outside the home and forced them to wear the all-enveloping burqa when venturing outdoors.

Afghanistan’s female soccer players wear tracksuits to cover their legs and some wear baseball caps covering their hair.

Training sessions are held in Kabul’s sports stadium, where the Taliban used to publicly execute murderers, amputate the limbs of thieves and lash adulterers.

The male-dominated country created a women’s soccer federation in 2004 and now has women taking part in boxing, volleyball, basketball and taekwondo among other sports, Walizada said.

Despite the freedoms, some women, particularly in rural areas, face threats for working outdoors from family members and some political factions within the government and Taliban insurgents.

Two female journalists were shot dead in their homes this year.

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