Kabul Girls Soccer Club: A Dream, Eight Girls, and a Journey Home

Kabul Girls Soccer Club: A Dream, Eight Girls, and a Journey Home

by Awista Ayub


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A ball can start a revolution.

Born in Kabul, Awista Ayub escaped with her family to Connecticut in 1981, when she was two years old, but her connection to her heritage remained strong. An athlete her whole life, she was inspired to start the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange after September 11, 2001, as a way of uniting girls of Afghanistan and giving them hope for their future. She chose soccer because little more than a ball and a field is needed to play; however, the courage it would take for girls in Afghanistan to do this would have to be tremendous—and the social change it could bring about by making a loud and clear statement for Afghan women was enough to convince Awista that it was possible, and even necessary.

Under Taliban rule, girls in Afghanistan couldn't play outside of their homes, let alone participate in a sport on a team. So, Awista brought eight girls from Afghanistan to the United States for a soccer clinic, in the hope of not only teaching them the sport, but also instilling confidence and a belief in their self-worth. They returned to Afghanistan and spread their interest in playing soccer; when Awista traveled there to host another clinic, hundreds of girls turned out to participate — and the numbers of players and teams keep growing. What began with eight young women has now exploded into something of a phenomenon. Fifteen teams now compete in the Afghanistan Football Federation, with hundreds of girls participating.

Against all odds and fear, these girls decided to come together and play a sport that has reintroduced the very traits that decades of war had cruelly stripped away from them — confidence and self-worth. In However Tall the Mountain, Awista tells both her own story and the deeply moving stories of the eight original girls, describing their daily lives back in Afghanistan, and how they found strength in each other, in teamwork, and in themselves — taking impossible risks to obtain freedoms we take for granted. This is a story about hope, about what home is, and in the end, about determination. As the Afghan proverb says, However tall the mountain, there's always a road.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401310257
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 06/08/2010
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.14(w) x 5.36(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Awista Ayub was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and escaped with her family to Connecticut at 2 years old. Following 9/11, she founded the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange as a means of introducing soccer to the young women of Aghanistan, both on US and Afghan soil. Today, she serves as director of the AYSE and lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Note to the Reader xi

Prologue 3

1 Reborn: America, June 2004 9

2 Return to Kabul: Samira, Kabul, August 2004 19

3 Come Back, Come Back: Samira, Kabul 35

4 Nice Kick, Bad Aim: America, June 2004 45

5 That I May Play Soccer: Robina, Kabul, September 2005 59

6 The Quiet Leader: Robina, Kabul and America 79

7 Between Two Worlds 89

8 Sisters: Freshta and Laila, from Pakistan to Kabul 95

9 Gathering of the Girls: Freshta and Laila, Kabul, December 2005 111

10 Far Afield: America, July 2004 121

11 A Team of Their Own: Ariana, Kabul, December 2005 133

12 On the Road: America, July-August 2004 149

13 Stars: Kabul, December 2005 159

14 Life Can Be Different: Miriam, Kabul and America 169

15 Winning: Miriam, Kabul, December 2005 189

16 Flying Away: August 2004 203

17 The Journey Home: Kabul, April 2006 205

18 Toward the Goal: Kabul, July 2007 215

Epilogue 221

Acknowledgments 233

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