Kardashian West helps transport Afghan women footballers to the UK
London — Members of the Afghan Youth Football Development Team arrived in Britain early this morning after being flown in from Pakistan with the help of a New York rabbi, British football club and Kim Kardashian West.
A plane chartered by the reality star with more than 30 teenage players and their families on board, numbering around 130 in total, landed at Stansted Airport near London. Afghans will spend 10 days in coronavirus quarantine before starting a new life in Britain.
Premier League club Leeds United offered to support players.
Britain and other countries evacuated thousands of Afghans by airlift when Kabul fell to Taliban fighters in August. Since then, many people have left overland for neighboring countries in the hope of traveling to the West.
Women’s exercise is seen as a political challenge to the Taliban, and hundreds of sports have left Afghanistan since the group’s return to power and begun to limit women’s education and freedoms.
Khaleda Popal, the former captain of the Afghan women’s national team, who led the effort to evacuate the players, said she was “very happy and relieved” that the girls and women were out of danger.
Many of these families left their homes when the Taliban seized power. Bhopal told the Associated Press that their homes were burned. Some of their family members have been killed or captured by the Taliban. So the danger and the pressure was very high, which is why it was very important to move quickly to get them out of Afghanistan.”
Australia has evacuated members of the Afghan national women’s soccer team, and the girls’ team has been resettled in Portugal.
Members of the development team, many of them from poor families in the country’s provinces, were able to reach Pakistan and eventually obtain visas to the UK. But they were kept in limbo for weeks without any flight out of the country as the deadline on their Pakistani visas lapsed.
The team got help from the Tzedek Association, an American non-profit group that previously helped the last known member of Kabul’s Jewish community to leave Afghanistan.
The group’s founder, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, has worked with reality TV star Kardashian West on criminal justice reform in the United States. Contact her to help pay for a charter flight to the UK
“Maybe an hour later, after the Zoom call, I got a text that Kim wanted to fund the entire trip,” Margaretten said.
A spokeswoman for Kardashian West confirmed that the star and her brand SKIMs chartered the flight.
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