Sports is a great equalizer. It not only empowers, but also equips the sportspeople to become agents of change. Through sports, persons with disabilities acquire vital social skills, gain independence and achieve the status of true heroes. And resonating all of these qualities are the energetic members of the Afghanistan women's wheelchair basketball squad.
In March, these feisty ladies won the qualifier held in Thailand, thus ensuring their team's spot in the Asian Para Games 2018 that are set to take off in Jakarta, Indonesia. For some of these players, it will be their first time travelling overseas and representing Afghanistan.
Each of them dreams of winning the championship. Having struggled to reach where they are today, these basketballers want the world to see this facet of Afghanistan too – where sports triumphs over gloom and conflict.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) introduced wheelchair basketball in Afghanistan close to eight years ago. Over the years, close to 400 sportspeople got associated with the game and now play represent various teams across the country. "They developed tremendous self-confidence after they started playing basketball," vouches Jess Markt, the ICRC's disability sport and inclusion adviser.