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Afghan women find voice through cricket

india Updated: Mar 02, 2014 00:34 IST
Anand Sachar
Anand Sachar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Asghar Stanikzai and Samiulla Shenwari's counter-attack against Bangladesh wasn't the most remarkable image of Afghanistan on Saturday.

A bunch of girls in hijab, attempting to compete with the unified roar of the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium bagged the honours. Draped in white T-shirts and jeans, the women shouted their lungs out and vivaciously waved the black, red and green Afghanistan flag.

When Stanikzai landed the ball in the stands, 'Stanikzai, Stanikzai' was the chant. For every other moment, 'Afghanistan perozi az aane maast' was the cry. In Dari, a Persian dialect, the cry translated into 'Afghanistan, victory is ours!'

"We are from Kabul and study at the Asian University for Women, Chittagong. We are here especially to cheer our boys and leave tonight," smiled Mursal, a 21-year-old student.

"We came because we knew our team was here. Nabi, Stanikzai and Shenwari are our favourites," she said.

If the cheering was intense, so was their journey. The girls travelled over nine hours by bus. "The bus ride did not bother us. We were so excited to come and cheer for our country," said Fatima Hashimi.

Just then, a member of the entourage climbed the grill and tried to chant through the barbed wire. To see them behave freely in a male-dominated stadium was surprising.

"It's time to get over those (Taliban) fears. How long will we live with them? They don't even support these games. We are against them and want to show them that we support sport. We want to end gender discrimination," said Mursal.