22 October 2021
Female Afghan players were welcomed at Coverciano. Gravina: "We want to help them integrate into our country"After fleeing their country, the three girls and their coach from the team in Herat were hosted at the facilities made available in Florence by the Municipality, Caritas, and COSPE. Bertolini: "An emotional meeting"
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
The journey to Kabul, the incognito escape from Afghanistan to reach Italy, the quarantine in the Red Cross tent city in Avezzano, Abruzzo, and the arrival in Florence on 4 September where they were welcomed in the facilities made available by the Municipality, Caritas, and COSPE. Among the 116 refugees in the Tuscan capital, there are three players and the coach of Bastan Fc, the Herat women's team which in recent years has represented a symbol of the emancipation of many Afghan women.
This morning the girls and their coach were guests at the Federation Technical Centre at Coverciano where the National Women's team are currently preparing for their first two qualifying matches for the 2023 World Cup. “It was the first meeting, the first step of a broader project with which we want to help the players of Herat to integrate into our country. Thanks to the Azzurre, a beautiful friendship has been born that stems from the shared passion for football and its capability to overcome all boundaries” underlined the federation’s president Gabriele Gravina.
The embrace with coach Milena Bertolini and captain Sara Gama, who gave the players from Herat a Puma kit and three Azzurre jerseys, was an emotional moment. At the end of the training session, the whole team gathered around the Afghan women - who then also visited the Football Museum - for some photos and to listen to their testimony.
“We’re very happy to have welcomed them”, expressed Coach Bertolini. “It was a very special moment for the whole group. We will never be able to fully understand what they felt, but we want to show closeness and affection. They have experienced something terrible, so we’ll have to make it clear that they are not alone”.
“It’s a pleasure to meet and to get to know you”, said one of the Afghan players. “We all follow your team, especially captain Sara Gama, and for this, it is a great emotion to be here today”.
The Afghan coach added: “Since we arrived here, the girls have forgotten and put everything behind their backs. We thank all the people who made today possible”.
The meeting was also attended by the AIAC Onlus president Marcello Mancini, a representative of AIC Chiara Marchitelli, the head of Caritas Marzio Mori, Caritas linguistic mediator Tara Shahsiah, social workers Lorenzo Chiari and Irene Caverni, councillor for Education and Welfare of the municipality of Florence Sara Funaro, and COSPE fundraising manager Irene Tognella.