The Recent York Times Sports department is revisiting the topics of some compelling articles from the last 12 months or so. In August, we reported on a soccer player who fled her home in Afghanistan to start a latest life. Here is an update.
When her latest life in Australia becomes too overwhelming, Fati, the goalkeeper for the Afghanistan national women’s soccer team, heads to the beach within the nighttime.
She walks along the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay, where the skyline of Melbourne glows in the gap. She shines a flashlight on the colourful fish darting across the shallow water. And listening to the gentle lapping waves, she takes a deep breath and exhales.
There within the darkness and solitude, it’s Fati’s time to reflect. And to mourn.
“I try hard to calm down and be calm, but I at all times find yourself fascinated about all of the things which have happened to me and all of the things I’ve lost,” she said. “I see that the water is limitless, like my problems are limitless.”
(The Recent York Times shouldn’t be using the last names of Fati and her teammates at their request because they fear retribution from the Taliban.)
About 16 months have passed by since Fati and her teammates on the national team risked their lives to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country. After The Recent York Times featured Fati in an article in late summer, she was offered paid speaking engagements, including one opportunity to talk at a law school graduation in California in 2023.
There’s also a probability that her story can be was a dramatic film after greater than a half-dozen people showed interest in buying the TV and film rights.
“Sometimes I feel like so strong and I would like to maintain sharing my story and motivating other people,” she said. “I’m making a difference, I hope.”
But none of that may magically heal her body and mind after running for her life from the Taliban, after which having no alternative but to depart her parents and youngest sister behind.
The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Fati and most of her teammates on the national soccer squad were forced to depart Afghanistan without each parents because large groups often couldn’t make it past the Taliban checkpoints and chaotic crowds on the solution to the Kabul airport, and to freedom.
Fati, 19, now lives in a suburb of Melbourne along with her older brother, a younger brother and a younger sister, and he or she has turn out to be their stand-in parents. Their parents and 5-year-old sister, Kawsar, are back in Kabul, barely making ends meet amid the country’s economic collapse.
A few of Fati’s teammates’ families have left Afghanistan for relative safety in neighboring countries like Iran or Pakistan while they await Australian visas. But Fati’s family has not had such luck. Her parents and Kawsar should not have passports, complicating a difficult situation.
Their immigration case has stalled within the system, and the potential cost for Fati to secure their exit from Afghanistan through backdoor channels is simply too much for her to pay. She and her family are Hazara, an ethnic group that is usually discriminated against and targeted by the Taliban, and the worth for those families to depart the country is within the 1000’s and might be greater than twice the price for non-Hazara families, she said.
“I try to not be negative, but in the event you want me to inform the reality, I’m losing my hope that my family will get a visa,” she said.
The considered never seeing her family again, or waiting a few years to see them, is unbearable, she said, because time already goes by so quickly. She is crushed that Kawsar is growing up without her.
Through day by day video calls, Fati has noticed that her little sister has modified a lot since they last saw one another within the melee outside the Kabul airport. Kawsar’s hair is long now, and the English that Fati taught her is slipping away. Now not does Kawsar watch Disney animated movies to learn English and improve her own prospects in life, the way in which Fati did. Kawsar also has stopped going to high school since it is just too dangerous. The Taliban have barred women and girls from playing sports and now have barred girls from going to high school past the sixth grade.
“She’s not the identical Kawsar as I knew,” Fati said, choking up.
Fati does her best to assist her family in Kabul by sending them money. And while once she was supporting just her parents and Kawsar there, now she is supporting nine individuals who live in her family’s house. In recent months, her aunt moved in along with her five children.
Already, there shouldn’t be that much money to go around. Fati must pay the bills for her house in a suburb of Melbourne where she lives along with her siblings, two teammates and one teammate’s father.
Fati also desires to relocate into the town to save lots of herself the hourlong commute to work and soccer training, however the housing in Melbourne is simply too expensive.
Her checking account balance bottomed out, once more, several months ago after her older brother, Khaliqyar, bought a automotive. She began working two jobs to assist pay that bill.
Her first job was within the IT department at a financial services company that could be a sponsor for the Afghan national team, now that the team plays for the Melbourne Victory skilled soccer club in a state league in Australia. From that IT job, Fati would go straight to her second job, an overnight shift at a pizza restaurant, preparing food and washing dishes until 4 a.m.
The schedule was so grueling that Fati often had headaches and will hardly keep her eyes open, and started to oversleep and miss days at her office job. So when Khaliqyar landed a gradual job at a painting company, she quit the pizza place.
Now, Fati is in a position to concentrate on her soccer training and leadership activities, which include being a spokeswoman for her national team, a squad that’s frustrated since it hasn’t been in a position to play any international matches.
The Afghanistan Football Federation deactivated the ladies’s national team program when the players left the country, a spokesman there said, and FIFA, the worldwide governing body of the game, has ignored the team’s request to be reinstated.
“I’m trying to not cry in regards to the team anymore, but it surely’s hard,” she said. “I just need to activate my Afghani mode and work hard to be a great goalkeeper and keep dreaming about playing within the World Cup someday.”
In August, the anniversaries of Fati leaving Kabul and arriving in Australia were amongst her hardest days in recent times.
During that point, she found it too hard to concentrate on her English class and dropped out of the course, which she said made her much more distraught and depressed. Several weeks later, there was an attack on an education center in Kabul that killed many Hazara students, including considered one of her teammate Bahara’s relatives.
Fati, Bahara and among the other players went to the beach that night to search out solace, and the ladies spent the night wiping their tears.
“I take a look at the water and I do know the water is so cold, and I’m afraid that my heart can be getting cold,” Fati said that night.
Lately, she is applying for scholarships to an area university so she and her sister Zahra can start classes next semester. It’s time to jump-start life, Fati said.
When she was an adolescent, she desired to be an archaeologist, and Fati still desires to see the pyramids in Egypt and visit China’s Great Wall. She also desires to play soccer for her country again.
“I’m a lot afraid of time and I take into consideration dying, so I do know I even have to make use of every opportunity,” she said. “What if all of my time goes by and I never see my family? What if I die without reaching my dreams?”