Nazifa Amiri would have loved to be there when the women’s T20 cricket World Cup starts next Friday in South Africa.
Her dream is to compete on a global stage wearing the shirt of Afghanistan.
It’s a dream, but it’s likely to stay that way.
One year later, the 20 Afghan Cricket board players were taken to safety by other governments.
Cricket was banned in Afghanistan because it was considered a crime to be a woman.
She was able to fly to Melbourne with the visa she received from Australia, just like all of her other training partners (two in Canada, one in England).
It’s difficult to describe the feeling. It’s not an option to leave your country. It’s not about you, it’s about you family and someone you love.
“I could help my family, my husband and my siblings, but other families of girls are still in Afghanistan.
“We cannot say that they are safe. They are not safe. This is a difficult situation for our entire team.”
She remained in Herat, her hometown, and was not likely to pick up another bat.
“I cannot say that the Taliban would only target cricketers. They want to target all women who play sports.
“They would target somebody and if she wasn’t there, they would target her family. They would say where she is and if they couldn’t find someone they would bother other people.
“We believe that the leaders of the world have forgotten about Afghanistan’s women, so we are determined to stay strong.
“Here in Australia, I can play, and I can represent my country. But unfortunately, the Taliban came and closed everything down for us.”
The 2017 ICC full membership was granted to the Afghanistan men’s cricket team. However, they failed to meet the criteria for women’s cricket. This was attributed to cultural and religious reasons.
They were determined to make progress and they did so with the hope that it would be easy for them to get their membership.
“They are very rude about girls participating in sport. Many people believe that sport isn’t appropriate for women.
“People are really negative about Afghanistan’s women’s sports. It is very difficult. Girls in Afghanistan play sport with their families, friends, and community.
“I have been fighting for eight years because I believe that I can play cricket and am strong.”
Afghanistan’s women’s team has never represented their country at an international. They are now training in Australia, and have so many things they don’t have back home.
“We have a coach and we have equipment. We have a field, but we didn’t have one in my city Herat. All we need is our national team.”
Nazifa believes they have always felt unsupported in their country.
“We didn’t get any support (men’s team), it’s really sad to see other countries women’s and men’s teams together. They support each other.”
“I would like to request that the ICC give us the opportunity to represent ourselves.
“Give us the opportunity to represent our country. My team wants all the girls to wear their uniforms and see the flag fly in the ground. We ask for the opportunity to play cricket. Only one time. Give us a chance.
She is still trying to build a new life, but she said there is no hope for women in her country right now.
“Women in Afghanistan and girls in Afghanistan are not secure.” Leaders around the globe are needed to change the rules regarding girls. All are banned. “I don’t see any future in Afghanistan for Afghan women who are allied with the Taliban.”