Photo: Afghanistan Cricket Board

Afghanistan’s exiled women’s cricket team calls on ICC for recognition

Afghanistan’s women’s cricket team, now in exile, has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to recognize the team and allow it to compete on the international stage.

Following the Taliban takeover two years ago, members of the team including their family members were forced to flee to Australia to safety.

The Taliban soon began to impose a series of draconian bans on women, including barring them from playing sports and visiting gyms.

“Our dreams were shattered from the day the Taliban came. Everything—bat, cricket equipment, we burned everything because of the fear,” Fariba Hotak, one of the team members, recounted to Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“The day we came to Australia, those dreams became alive again. We started to want to play again. We wanted to have a team here, to play cricket here.”

While Hotak and her 25 teammates, who were evacuated to Melbourne, are offered a chance to play in local leagues, they have not yet been able to play internationally. For that to happen, the ICC, or the cricket’s world governing body, has to officially recognize the team.

In an effort, the women’s cricket squad told the Associated Press (AP) that they sent an email to the ICC in December.

“Could you please advise what the official stance is on our national playing contracts and future playing opportunities, noting that we are no longer living in Afghanistan?” they wrote.

“The funding provided by the ICC to the ACB [Afghanistan Cricket Board] for the women’s program—where has this money gone? And can it be redirected to an organization in Australia to invest in our development… so we can still represent our country on the international stage?” the email mentioned.

The women’s cricket team said they hope to represent their home country on the world stage and require the ICC’s help and support. “Our hopes of representing our country remain alive. We are waiting for your leadership and your right decision.”

The ICC has not yet responded to their request.

But, in an emailed statement to the AP, the ICC said that the Afghanistan Cricket Board operates “autonomously” and that it does not get involved in decisions managed by the cricket board of a country.

“The ICC board remains committed to supporting the Afghanistan Cricket Board and are not penalizing the ACB, or their players for abiding by the laws set by the government of their country.” The ICC retorted to AP.