Afghanistan cricket chiefs are still awaiting instructions from the country’s new Taliban government on the future of the women’s game and are not anticipating a decision any time soon.
The Taliban named a new government on Tuesday, three weeks after sweeping to power when the Western-backed government collapsed in the wake of the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces.
When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan two decades ago, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education.
“So far, we don’t have any news from the government,” Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwari told Reuters.
“Its future will be decided by the new government.
“We are still in an emergency state in the country. Whenever we get to a normal state, that decision will be made.”
#EXCLUSIVE: Taliban representative Ahmadullah Wasiq confirms to @sbsnews that Afghan women and girls won't be allowed to play any sports that "expose' their bodies, including cricket. Australia has already provided humanitarian visas to some female athletes: pic.twitter.com/s7WcChXm2O
— Anna Henderson (@annajhenderson) September 8, 2021
The Afghan women’s squad was quietly disbanded amid safety concerns a few years after it was formed in 2010 but the ACB revived the team last year and gave contracts to 25 players.
The ACB’s popular program for girls has already been paused, Shinwari said, but men’s cricket has been allowed to continue as before.
“So far, whatever message we’ve received is of support for the game,” he said.
“(For the) past two weeks, I’ve been trying convey our mission to the authorities and government officials – how this game can contribute – and that has paid off.
“We haven’t experienced any impediments so far.”
Cricket’s popularity has soared in Afghanistan and players like spinner Rashid Khan have become marquee names in Twenty20 leagues across the cricketing world.
“Sports, particularly cricket, can significantly boost revenue in the country, spread positivity and even create qualified workforce,” Shinwari said.
“It’s important the new government understands cricket’s importance.”