If the Taliban does not allow the Afghan women’s team to play cricket, Cricket Australia will not host the Afghanistan men’s team for a one-off test scheduled from November 27.
History Of Afghan Women’s Team
First formed in 2010, the team was disbanded in 2014. They were scheduled to play the 2011 ACC Women’s Twenty20 Championship in Kuwait but the team had to withdraw from the tournament even before travelling to Kuwait due to elements in Afghanistan opposing women’s participation in sports.
In 2012, they played in a 6 team tournament in Tajikistan and became champions of the tournament by winning 4 matches and drawing one.
In November 2020, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) offered 25 central contracts to women of considerable talent and formed the Nation Women’s Team for Cricket. Down the timeline, they also formed fitness camps and coaching centres for women to take part in and stand trials for the team.
Current Situation in Afghanistan
The safety of women in the National Team was a major concern post the Taliban offensive and Fall of Kabul on August 15th, 2021. Three players from the team, Roya Samim and her two sisters fled Afghanistan and sought refuge in Canada.
According to her, the ICC was unresponsive when asked about the safety precautions of the Women’s Team, and the ACB was helpless and replied “Wait”.
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The Guardian reported that ICC was communicating with ACB in order to avoid acting unilaterally. The ICC further revealed that it had not received any emails asking for help and that they were keeping close monitoring on any development of situations.
The Taliban threatened to kill a team member “if [she tried] to play cricket again“. Another member in exile stated that the ICC “never help[ed]” the women’s cricket team, “always disappoint[ed]” the team, and only communicated with the ACB rather than contacting the women’s team directly.
Cricket Australia Taking Stand
“If recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed test match due to be played in Hobart.”
This was the message sent out by Cricket Australia. It sets an unprecedented example of when an international oversight body does not take a stand, how a nation can help the growth of another nation.
Sports should never be discriminatory. It is for every single person, and the fact that Afghanistan had started to help nurture women’s cricket was a step towards a bright future for Afghanistan.
Cricket Australia went on to say “Cricket Australia (CA) said driving the growth of women’s cricket was “incredibly important” to the board.”
The deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq stated, “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket… In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this. It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed“.
If this is the kind of future the Taliban has for women in Afghanistan, it would be of urgent necessity to intervene on the grounds of human rights violations. Cricket Australia took the first step, and all we can hope is for other nations/organizations to follow suit.
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