The New York Times sports section subject review of some compelling articles from the last year or so. In August, Soccer player fleeing home in Afghanistan to start a new life. Here is an update.
Overwhelmed by her new life in Australia, Fatih, the goalkeeper for the Afghanistan women’s soccer national team, heads to the beach for the night.
She walks along the coastline of Port Phillip Bay with the Melbourne skyline shining in the distance. Use your flashlight to illuminate the colorful fish swimming in the shallows. Then, while listening to the gentle sound of the waves, take a deep breath and exhale.
In the darkness and solitude, it’s time for Fatty to ponder. and she laments.
“I try to relax and stay calm, but I always end up thinking about everything that’s happened to me and all the things I’ve lost,” she said. Then you realize that the water is endless.”
(The New York Times has not used the surnames of Fatih and her teammates at their request because it fears retaliation from the Taliban.)
It’s been almost 16 months since Fatih and her teammates on the national team risked their lives to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country. After featuring, she was offered a paid speaking engagement that included an opportunity to speak at a California law school commencement ceremony in 2023.
It’s also possible that her story could become a dramatic movie after more than half a dozen people expressed interest in buying the TV and film rights.
“Sometimes I feel so strong that I want to keep sharing my story and motivate others. I’m making a difference, I hope.”
But nothing can magically heal her body and mind, who fled for her life from the Taliban and left her parents and youngest child behind.
Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Fatih and most of her teammates on the national football team left without their parents on their way to Kabul airport and freedom, as large groups were often unable to get through Taliban checkpoints and chaotic crowds. forced to leave Afghanistan.
Nineteen-year-old Fatih now lives in a suburb of Melbourne with her brother, brother and sister, and she has taken the place of her parents. Their parents and her five-year-old sister, Kawsar, have moved back to Kabul, barely making a living amid the country’s economic collapse.
Several of Fatih’s teammates’ families left Afghanistan relatively safely in neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan while waiting for Australian visas. Is not … Her parents and Cowther do not have passports, complicating the difficult situation.
Their immigration lawsuit has stalled in the system, and the potential costs of Fatih to secure her exit from Afghanistan through backdoor channels are too much for her to pay. An ethnic group often discriminated against and targeted by the Taliban, the cost of leaving the country for these families can run into the thousands, more than double that of non-Hazara families. , she says. she said.
“I try not to be negative, but if I’m telling the truth, I’m losing hope that my family will get a visa,” she said.
She said the thought of never seeing her family again, or waiting years to see them, was unbearable. She is devastated that Cowser is growing up without her.
Through daily video calls, Fatih realized that her sister had changed a lot since the last time they met in a brawl outside Kabul airport. Her cowther hair has grown longer and the English that Fatty taught her is slowly fading away. Like Fati, Cowser no longer learns English by watching Disney animated movies to improve her own life prospects. Cowser also stopped going to school. Because it’s too dangerous. The Taliban have banned girls and women from playing sports and have also banned a girl from attending school past her sixth grade.
“She’s not the Cowser I used to know,” Fatih choked.
Fatih tries her best to help her family in Kabul by sending money to them. She used to support only her parents and Kauser, but now supports her nine children, who live in her parents’ house. In the last few months, her aunt has moved in with her five children.
Already, there’s not a lot of money circling around. Fati has to pay the bills for the house in the suburbs of Melbourne where she lives with her brother, two teammates and one teammate’s father.
Fati also wants to move to the city to save an hour’s commute and soccer training, but housing in Melbourne is too expensive.
Her bank account hit rock bottom again months before her brother Khaliqyar bought a car. She started her two jobs to help pay her bills.
Her first job was in the IT department of a financial services company that sponsored the Afghanistan national team playing for Melbourne Victory Pro Football Club in the Australian state league. From that her IT job, Fati quickly embarked on her second job. It was her night shift at a pizza restaurant, where she would prepare food and wash the dishes until 4am.
The schedule was so demanding that Fati often suffered from headaches, could hardly keep her eyes open, and would oversleep and miss office work for days. So Khaliqyar quits the pizza shop once he gets a steady job at a painting company.
Fatih can now focus on his football training and leadership activities. This includes serving as spokeswoman for the national team.
The Afghan Football Federation has disabled its women’s national team program when its players left the country, the country’s spokesman said, while FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, ignored calls for the team’s return. did.
“I try not to cry about the team anymore, but it’s hard,” she said. “I want to turn on the Afghani mode, work hard to become a good goalkeeper, and continue dreaming of playing in the World Cup one day.
Arriving in Australia from Kabul in August, Fatih’s anniversary was one of the toughest in years.
Meanwhile, she found it too difficult to concentrate on her English class and dropped out of the course. A student has died.
That night, Fatih, Bahla, and some other players went to the beach for solace, and the women wiped their tears through the night.
“I look at the water and I know it is very cold.
Recently, she has applied for a scholarship to a local university so she can start classes next semester with her sister Zahra. It’s time to start her life over, said Fatih.
When she was a teenager, she wanted to be an archaeologist. Fatih still wants to see the Egyptian pyramids. She also wants to visit the Great Wall of China. She also wants to play soccer for her country.
“I’m so afraid of time and I’m thinking of dying, so I know I have to take every opportunity.” What if I die without reaching my dream?”