Sports

Women's Soccer Scores in Afghanistan

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Sajia Sahar, captain of the Afghan Women's National Soccer Team

Afghan native Sajia Sahar learned to play soccer (or football, as it's more widely known) in neighboring Pakistan. She had a good teacher. Her father was a star on the Afghan men's national team before the Taliban effectively outlawed the sport from 1996 until US-led forces ousted it from power in 2001.

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When she returned to Afghanistan, Sahar decided to form a women's soccer club. It hasn't been easy.

"When I started playing football, I had many problems," said Sahar in a recent BBC interview. "I also received many phone calls. People were telling me, 'You're a girl. You should stay home and study. You're not allowed to join the team and play football.'"

Sahar ignored the naysayers. Ever since, the sport has been growing by leaps and bounds. "In Afghanistan, we have more than 500 girls playing football, and more than 20 clubs," she said. "That's a good first step for beginning sports in Afghanistan for women."

Last month, the Afghan women's national team, with Sahar as captain, took third place in the South Asian Football Federation tournament. During the competition, they beat their arch-rivals Pakistan 4 to 1.

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