American goalkeeper Haley Carter said she was "humbled" after receiving the FIFPro Merit Award and a $25,000 cheque for her work with the women's national team of Afghanistan.
Carter, who plays for Houston Dash, is raising awareness and financial support for a project which aims to promote the inclusion of women in Afghanistan’s society. She also is the assistant coach of the team.
Women suffer from oppression and abuse in Afghanistan. A 2012 research by Action Aid said that almost 9 out of 10 Afghan women faced physical, sexual or psychological violence, or were forced into marriage.
The situation has improved in recent years but many women are still discriminated against and marginalized. Many prefer to stay indoors and remain silent. Carter and the women’s national team want to change that.
“I am truly humbled," Carter said after receiving her award from FIFPro's Tony Higgins. “I was born into a supportive and warm family. I was fortunate that my parents gave me the opportunity to be anything I wanted to be. All women should have the same chances in life.”
Afghanistan's football federation lacks resources and can only supply the team with a small budget.
The team is recognized officially even though almost half of the players are refugees who fled to Europe and America. Team manager and former captain Khalida Popal escaped from Afghanistan after receiving death threats for playing football.
“The project is a positive way to connect refugees back to their heritage," Carter said. "It makes them feel that they belong to a community.”
“I thank FIFPro from the bottom of my heart, for considering our project for the merit award. It just means the world to me.”
“It’s really rewarding how the amount of funding that we have received so far has empowered our women and gave them opportunities to see that their dreams can come through and that they can represent their country.”
In December, Afghanistan is participating in the South Asian Football Federation Cup in India.
About the FIFPro Merit Award
Each year since 2008 FIFPro has honoured a professional footballer for the work he or she has done to the benefit of a charity. The winner receives a $25,000 cheque, which must be spent on the charity in question.
- Published: 11 November 2016