The junior football team escaped the strict rule of the Taliban, which believes girls and women should not leave their homes to participate in sports.

An Afghan woman holding a football ball and wearing a CAFA (Central Asian Football Association) credential, waits in line at a processing center for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan at the Dulles Expo Center near Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S., August 24, 2021.
An Afghan woman holding a football ball and wearing a CAFA (Central Asian Football Association) credential, waits in line at a processing center for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan at the Dulles Expo Center near Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S., August 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Members of Afghanistan’s women soccer team and their families arrived in Pakistan after fleeing their country in the wake of the Taliban's takeover, local media said on Wednesday.

It was unclear how many Afghan women players and their family members were allowed to enter in Pakistan.

But the girls  belong to Afghanistan's junior football team and had been in hiding after the Taliban swept to power last month. 

Their departure is part of a broader exodus of Afghan intellectuals and public figures, especially women. 

READ MORE: Australia to cancel Afghan test cricket if Taliban bans women sports

According to Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry, the Afghan women soccer players entered in Pakistan though the northwestern Torkham border crossing holding valid travel documents.

"We welcome Afghanistan women football team,” Chaudhry tweeted, providing no further details.

However, Pakistan’s English-langue Dawn newspaper reported that the Afghan female footballers were issued emergency humanitarian visas.

The Taliban reportedly don’t want women to participate in sports.

When the group last ruled Afghanistan two decades ago, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education. Women were barred from sports and that is likely to continue in this regime as well.

A Taliban representative last week told Australian broadcaster SBS that he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket because it was "not necessary" and would be against Islam.

"Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed," SBS quoted the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, as saying.

Most of Afghanistan women's national football team players have already been evacuated from the country to Australia. 

Several former and current women football players fled the country following the Taliban takeover, while a former captain of the team urged players still in Afghanistan to burn their sports gear and delete their social media accounts to avoid reprisals.

The sport's governing body FIFA said last month it was working to evacuate those remaining in the country. 

READ MORE: 'Come back home': The two young Afghans who fell from a US military jet

'Don't boycott cricket'

International cricketers should support Afghanistan's men's team, not punish them by boycotting matches if the Taliban bars women from playing, the former director of the women's side said.

Tuba Sangar, who fled the country for Canada shortly after the fall of the country to the movement, warned that sports sanctions would damage the game at the grassroots — including for women and girls.

"It's not a good idea to boycott the male team. They did a lot for Afghanistan — they introduced Afghanistan to the world in a positive way," Sangar said on Tuesday.

Australia's cricket chiefs threatened to cancel a historic maiden Test between the two countries set to take place in November after a senior Taliban official went on television to say it was "not necessary" for women to play.

The takeover has called into question the future of Afghanistan's participation in Test matches, as under International Cricket Council regulations, nations must also have an active women's team.

The Afghan men's team is also scheduled to play the T20 World Cup from October 17 to November 14 in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) last week urged Australia not to punish its men's team, saying it was "powerless to change the culture and religious environment of Afghanistan".

Source: Reuters