Afghanistan are set to get their first women's national team, to participate in an international Twenty20 tournament organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) next year. Women have increasingly taken up careers in sport since the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, and the tournament in Kuwait next year marks another step forward for Afghanistan cricket.
More than 100 women play the game in Kabul and several have attended umpiring courses, and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) plans to organise a local competition to shortlist players for the tournament. The team uniform will reportedly include a headscarf or hijab, as per Islamic tradition.
"Women's cricket provides an opportunity for Afghan young women to be fit and have healthier and more active lives," Hamid Shinwari, the ACB chief executive, said. "The ACB has a strong commitment to developing the game for women in a way that is good for them and, at the same time, respects our Islamic and Afghan values.
"Women's cricket will build self-esteem, leadership and positive values for young women in our country, just as it is doing for young men."
"This development is so exciting for our young women cricketers and their families and supporters," Diana, the women's cricket development officer at the ACB, said in a statement. "We love our country and hope to support it through our sport. Seeing a women's cricket team in the Asian Cup will do so much to raise the hopes of many women here."
The men's national team has made rapid strides, having qualifyied for the World Twenty20 in 2010 and gained ODI status.