Afghanistan: Taliban expected to block plans for national women's cricket team

Afghan women play cricket in Herat in December 2015.
Afghanistan's cricket board awarded 25 contracts to female cricketers in 2020

The Afghanistan Cricket Board expects the incoming Taliban authorities to block plans to create a national women's team.

The International Cricket Council requires its 12 full members - of which Afghanistan is one - to have a national women's team.

Twenty five female cricketers were awarded contracts in November 2020.

"I think it will be stopped - that is my assumption," Hamid Shinwari, chief executive of the national board, said.

Speaking to the Sports Desk podcast, Shinwari said: "I really don't know what will be the position in the future.

"We have kept the salaries and they are on our payroll. If the government decides that we don't go with the national women's team, we will have to stop it."

Afghanistan have not entered a women's team to compete in any ICC regional tournament, but awarding contracts was part of a push towards developing a national side.

During their previous rule, from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban stopped girls from receiving any form of education, while women were unable to work or leave the house without being accompanied by a male relative.

They have since promised to respect the rights of women in the country "within the framework of Islamic law".

Khalida Popal, the former captain of Afghanistan women's football team, has closed down the national team's football account to prevent players from being identified.

"Women's cricket is pretty new in Afghanistan so I really don't know how much impact it will have on progress in the country," Shinwari said.

"It is up to the government to decide and as an employee, we go ahead with the rules and regulations."

Shinwari added that the board were committed to playing their limited-overs series against Pakistan in September and had received messages of support from the Taliban.

"They are there to support us whenever there is a need," Shinwari said of the incoming forces.

"For the time being all is relatively good. We are going ahead with our schedules and activities. We haven't seen any impediments so far."

Download the The Sports Desk from Friday for a closer look at the impact of the Afghanistan crisis on the country's progress through sport.

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