Artwork: International Surrey Football. Photo: Girl Tiny Shooter.
International Surrey Football this morning announced that they will be hosting the Afghanistan Women’s Development Team in a friendly fixture on Sunday 29th May at the Meadowbank Stadium in Dorking.
The match which will also mark our Surrey Women’s first full debut since playing their opening trial game against the University of Surrey in 2021 which was won 8-1 by the county team. The game in Dorking will also be Surrey’s first game where fans will be able to attend and support the team on such an important occasion.
The Afghanistan Women’s Development team is made up of players forced to leave their homes in Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces and the withdrawal of NATO forces in August 2021. The team had been planning to compete in the under-23 Central Asian Football Federation’s women’s championship, unfortunately, those plans fell apart suddenly with the Taliban’s quick advance on the Afghan capital in scenes many of us will remember.
This event placed all Afghan women’s players at immediate risk, with many players encouraged to destroy their own kit to protect themselves and not be identifiable as footballers. Fortunately, many of the players and their families were able to safely leave Afghanistan, the women’s first team, now based in Melbourne, Australia, and recently admitted to the regional Victoria football competition with assistance from A-League side Melbourne Victory FC.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Women’s Development team were initially unable to be evacuated to the UK. The team went into hiding on their journey to Kabul’s airport. They were at the airport when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a gate on the perimeter, killing 170 Afghan nationals as well as 13 US service members. It wasn’t until they had managed to safely cross the border into neighbouring Pakistan that they were able to leave for the UK with the help of Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani that the team were able to reach the UK and are able to train at Leeds United FC.
The Afghanistan Development team recently enjoyed a trip to London with a game against the UK Parliamentary Women’s team with assistance from Amnesty International and played at Dulwich Hamlet and included a visit to Westminster. The Afghan team won every game they played against the British MPs.
The plan to bring the team to Surrey isn’t over just yet, with travel and accommodation costs to cover for what is being planned as a two-day trip for the Afghan players, International Surrey Football will be running a crowdfunding campaign, as well as seeking donations, to help contribute towards the travel and accommodation expenses for their stay in Dorking.
As well as individual donations, larger corporate donors can contact International Surrey Football directly to discuss sponsorship opportunities as well as to help cover the various costs for travel and accommodation.
Donations can be made to: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/afghanistan-to-dorking-football