London: Members of Afghanistan’s women’s development youth football team have arrived in the UK after being flown in from Pakistan with the help of a New York rabbi, a British football club and Kim Kardashian West.
A plane chartered by the reality star and with more than 30 teenage players and their families, about 130 people in total, landed at Stansted Airport near London early Thursday, local time. Afghans will spend 10 days in coronavirus quarantine before starting new life in Britain.
English Premier League club Leeds United have offered to support the players.
Britain and other countries evacuated thousands of Afghans in a hasty airlift when Kabul fell to Taliban militants in August. Many more people have since traveled overland to neighboring countries in hopes of traveling further to the West.
Women who played sports were seen as a political defiance against the Taliban, and hundreds of female athletes have left Afghanistan since the group returned to power and began slowing down women’s education and freedom.
Khalida Popal, a former captain of Afghanistan’s national women’s team who has spearheaded the evacuation effort for female athletes, said she felt “so happy and so relieved” that the girls and women were out of danger.
“Many of these families left their houses when the Taliban took over. Their houses were burned down,” Popal told the Associated Press. “Some of their family members were killed or taken by the Taliban. So the danger and stress was very high, and therefore it It is very important to move quickly to get them out of Afghanistan. “
Australia evacuated the members of Afghanistan’s women’s national football team, and the youth team was resettled in Portugal.