By: Monitoring Desk
KABUL: When West London’s first Afghan Muslim girls football team launched this year, it was on the back of local girls who wanted to get more involved in sport.
Abresham FC, born out of West London charity the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association in Feltham came into fruition after girls in the charity’s supplementary school requested a sports club.
Now two months after launching as a football team, Abresham FC, also backed by Comic Relief, has over 50 registered participants aged eight to 16-years-old.
“We want to increase the visibility of Muslim girls in sport,” Alice Bletsoe, 24, the charity’s girls football coordinator told My London new. She continued: “And not just Muslim girls but girls in general.
“There is massive under representation of girls in sport but by creating a squad and developing their skills and helping them be as good as they can be, it may encourage other girls to do the same.
“There’s a large Afghan community in West London and Feltham particularly.”
The West London boroughs of Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon have the largest populations of Afghan people in London with the capital forming 60 per cent of the UK’s Afghan population.
Alice said the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, which also provides language and legal support to Afghan people in the area, want to use the team to support young girls in the community develop skills in sport and also meet other Afghan and Muslim families in the area.
” The girls really enjoy it and t he parents are really supportive,” Alice said.
She added: “Sometimes the parents are more encouraging than the daughters, they’re like ‘come on we’re playing football.’ When its sunny the parents stay and support which is nice.
“One of the aims is to get a squad playing in leagues, that would be a dream.”
Having only started in April following easing of lockdown restrictions, Abresham FC, which means “silk” in Farsi (the predominant language in Afghanistan), is yet to feature in any leagues just yet.
Alice said one of the biggest challenges for the team has been getting older girls in the area to join the team as well as finding female football coaches.
In spite of the challenges Alice said the team continues to push on with support from the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association and the local community.
Abresham FC recently held its first football tournament attended by families and community YouTube channel, Abresham TV.