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Building Dreams: The Future of Afghan Women's Football in Australia and Beyond

In a triumph of resilience and solidarity, the Afghan national women's football team, led by Adiba Ganji, has found a new home and hope in Australia after a harrowing journey from Kabul.  

Women Onside played a role in supporting these athletes since their evacuation from Afghanistan's capital in 2021. The journey of these footballers, detailed in an article by Sam Lewis in 2021, highlights the extraordinary challenges they faced and the critical support they received from Women Onside's Afghan Football Support Network. Former Women Onside Director Asma Mirzae and advocate Anne Bunde-Birouste spearheaded this effort, leveraging their experiences as refugee advocates.  

As detailed in Kate Ashton’s powerful article, Adiba and her teammates have leaned on the unwavering support of Australian football since their evacuation from Afghanistan's tumultuous capital in 2021.  

Adiba's remarkable journey began in Kabul, where, as a young teenager, she defied societal norms and braved the dangers of pursuing her dream of becoming an elite soccer player. Despite facing resistance and threats from the Taliban, Adiba's passion for football remained unyielding; however, as the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, Adiba was confronted with an impossible choice: stay in her homeland under Taliban rule or risk everything to pursue her dream of freedom and equality. With the support of international advocates and the determination to forge her own path, Adiba embarked on a perilous journey to safety, eventually finding refuge in Australia alongside her fellow footballers. 

Under the Melbourne Victory Afghan Women's Team (AWT) banner, Adiba and her teammates defied expectations and soared in Victoria's football leagues. From humble beginnings in State League 4 to their recent promotion to State League 2, the AWT has captured the hearts of fans and adversaries alike with their unwavering determination and competitive spirit. 

Yet, beyond the confines of the football pitch, Adiba's journey is a testament to the resilience and strength of women who refuse to be silenced. As she balances her football aspirations with work and studies, Adiba remains steadfast in her commitment to advocating for the thousands of girls in Afghanistan who are denied the opportunity to pursue their dreams. 

Supported by Women Onside and a global community of advocates, Adiba stands as a beacon of hope for women's football in Afghanistan and beyond. Her journey, marked by courage, determination, and unwavering resilience, is a powerful reminder of the transformative power of sport and the indomitable spirit of women who refuse to be defined by adversity. 


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