Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Two years after Taliban takeover, football is helping restore the happiness of 40 Afghan girls - Open Doors UK & Ireland
16 August 2023

Two years after Taliban takeover, football is helping restore the happiness of 40 Afghan girls

This week marks two years since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Thousands have since fled the country, with many settling in a country neighbouring Afghanistan where an idea by Open Doors local partners is bringing joy to a group of young Afghani girls…

Girls football

Football has been a lifeline for these girls who've fled Afghanistan 

Five times a week, 40 girls gather to play football – and it makes them so happy. 

It may sound like your typical football club, but this particular initiative is anything but that, making the girls’ joy all the more precious and remarkable.

Conquering fear through football

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan two years ago rocked the country and dealt a devastating blow to the lives and freedoms of countless Afghanis, including women and girls, as well as religious minorities like Christians. For believers, following Jesus already came with great danger, but the Taliban’s takeover put them at even greater risk, forcing them from the country or deeper underground.

In the months that followed, Christians were among thousands to flee the country, with many relocating to a country neighbouring Afghanistan. But for many, it led to more challenges. “The situation for them is very difficult,” says Brother Ismael*. “In our region, governments do not officially recognise the presence of such a large number of refugees and don’t provide the necessary social support to them.”

It’s here that Open Doors local partners have been able to help – not only with practical aid including food, clothing, medical care, blankets and hygiene items, but the provision of football. The impact on the 40 girls – plus around 100 boys – has been transformative, particularly given the desperation many of them had been feeling. 

“The shocking reality is that three out of every ten of these refugee children say they want to end their lives because they spend most of their time indoors out of fear,” continues Brother Ishmael.

The initiative is open to Christians as well as Muslims and those of other faiths and none, providing a gateway to build relationships with parents. This in turn has led to the provision of practical aid and opportunities to share the gospel – and already people have come to know Jesus! A house group of 15-20 people has already been formed from the football initiative. 

And with the Women’s World Cup well underway, drawing widespread attention and excitement, the girls’ happiness at being involved has likely increased! 

Hope inspired by happiness

The Taliban’s takeover has had a seismic impact upon the lives of countless Afghanis. The stories that we share, and those that hit the news, only scratch the surface at what the group’s rule means for people and their futures.

But the happiness of these 40 girls is a reminder that hope can still be found amid the pain, upheaval and loss, and it's just one of the many ways in which your prayers and support are contributing to the amazing things God is doing among Afghan refugees. Thank you, and please keep your Afghani family in your prayers.

*Name changed for security reasons

Please pray
  • Give thanks for the wonderful impact this initiative has had upon the children
  • That it will continue to have a transformative impact on the families of Afghan refugees
  • That these refugees will soon be able to return to Afghanistan and live freely.
Get regular updates to your inbox

Each week, we send out an email featuring news, stories and updates from around the world to inform and inspire your prayers for your persecuted family, together with details of events and resources that may interest you.

Subscribe today

Share this story

Get involved

Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.