To support Afghan women and raise awareness on mine action, the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) distributed football uniforms to 192 female football players on Wednesday March 19th, 2014.

This ceremony was held at the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) and attended by Mohammad Yusuf Kargar, AFF Technical Vice President; Hamid Elmi, AFF Senior Advisor; Hajar Abulfazel, AFF Head of Women’s Football Committee; Abigail Hartley, UNMAS Programme Manager; Noorullah Elham, MACCA Sr. Public Information Officer; as well as the players and managers of the women team.

Mr. Mohammad Yusuf Kargar, the AFF Technical Vice President, declaring his gratitude said: “We greatly thank MACCA and UNMAS for their decision to support our women teams. It is a big concern for all of us knowing that every month around 37 people lose their lives or get injured because of mines and explosive remnants of war. Our doors will always be open to mine action colleagues and we will always advocate for this life-saving programme.” Mr. Kargar added: “Football in Afghanistan is not just a sport anymore, but it brings with itself a message of unity, peace and security. Thus, we will also try to make our people and the world aware of the danger of mines and ERW to ensure that we have played our role in saving the lives of innocent children, women and men.”

Abigail Hartley, the UNMAS Programme Manager in Afghanistan, congratulated the women’s football team managers, noting that: “We are all women working in a man’s world. You inspire me and I hope I can encourage you.” She went on to explain: “In Afghanistan, every month around 37 people die or are injured because of mines and ERW. Still over 4,300 hazardous areas remain in more than 1,600 villages of this country. This contamination directly affects women and this is why we are taking steps to increase awareness of the problem.”

The ceremony concluded with the distribution of the uniforms to the female football players and the exchange of contacts for future collaboration. Both sides agreed to continue working together towards an Afghanistan free of mines and ERW.