Three young girls who fled Afghanistan after the recent Taliban takeover are among the thousands of evacuees taking shelter in Red Cross tents at a refugee camp in Italy.
They used to play in a football team in Herat but when the regime swept to power, the girls decided to escape, fearing for their lives.
Leaving their families behind, the footballers fled their country with the help of their coach. Now they just want to go to school, start a new life and keep kicking a ball.
“Especially for us, sportswomen and girls, and even for women in general it is a very bad situation and we had to leave our country,” Sara, one of the young Afghans, told Euronews.
For years, these girls had been chasing their dream of becoming professional footballers in their own country. But what was once a normal activity had become a life-threatening one with the arrival of the Taliban.
Sara, Rosa and her peers were not ready to give in.
“Football makes me feel powerful. I want to play and show my abilities and my talent all over the world,” Sara added.
“My hope and the one of other girls is to stay here and improve our football and our education. I hope that, one day, peace will come to Afghanistan and we will go home,” said Rosa, one of the other Afghan footballers.
The girls reached Italy with the help of COSPE, an Italian NGO supporting the rights of Afghan women since 2008.
“We strongly feared for their lives. But then we felt such a strong emotion when they arrived in Florence, although we immensely regretted not being able to bring all of them here,” said Anna Meli, COSPE communication director.
The city of Florence has welcomed up to 120 Afghan refugees out of the thousands who fled to Italy over recent weeks.
Florence’s mayor Dario Nardella told Euronews that Italian citizens should “never take freedom and democracy for granted”.
“What’s happening in Afghanistan may happen anywhere. One thing is fighting for women’s rights in Italy and Europe, but a completely different thing is doing it in a country where you risk your life in doing so,” Nardella noted.
Watch the full video report in the player above.