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Documentarian Helps Afghan Women’s Soccer Club Flee to Italy

  • 4 weeks ago

Risks To Female Athletes Heightened Under New Regime

Italian documentarian and journalist Stefano Liberti made the news last after helping 3 members of a women’s soccer club in Afghanistan, their families and coach find refuge in Italy. The filmmaker/journalist was able help the group after ex-team captain Susan Bastan contacted him via facebook Bastan was featured in Herat Football Club, a film Liberti made with Mario Poeta about women’s sports in Afghanistan, which were banned in the Taliban era, but weren’t particularly well received during the U.S. occupation either. Still, female Afghani athletes living abroad have warned their counterparts within the country to shut down social media accounts and even to burn their uniforms, out of fear they’ll face repercussions for having played sports once the new regime is in place.

Bastan, like many of her cohort, is leaving behind the beginnings of her adult life in Afghanistan, including university, in search of safety for herself and her family.  The group of 16 from Heart, of which she is a part, has made it to Italy after coming through an Italian Red Cross camp in Avezzano where almost 1,500 evacuees are quarantining before being released into the country. This details stands in stark contrast to the U.S.’s current use of the COVID pandemic as ground for deporting Haitian refugees living in terrible conditions on the U.S. border.

Bastan and Liberti’s story is also encouraging as U.S. documentarians, such as those involved in the D-Word/Afghan Resources Project efforts to help at-risk friends and contacts out of Afghanistan, have found their efforts stalled by bureaucratic paperwork and filing fees. See details on how to help here.   

Stefano Liberti is an SDFF alumni whose film Soyalism (2019, Italy) was an SDFF 2020 Official Selection.

Still Image from Herat Football Club (Stefano Liberti and Mario Poeta, 2017).

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