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Farkhunda Muhtaj, captain of the Afghan women's football national side and humanitarian activist, is in Barcelona for a few days and the Club wished to recognise her achievements in light of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November.
The Club read out a statement from the world of sport on the subject before Saturday's game at Camp Nou against Espanyol with the aim of raising awareness amongst its sportspeople, members and fans on the subject of fighting against violence directed towards women.
The department of Inclusion and Diversity at FC Barcelona helped Muhtaj witness the debut of coach Xavi Hernández as first team coach against Espanyol and on Monday morning she paid a visit to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper to meet the members of the Barça Women squad not on international duty as well as coach Jonatan Giráldez.
On Monday afternoon she will visit La Masia to give a talk to the residents, sharing her experience both on and off the field. On Tuesday she will be a guest of honour in the Directors' Box at Camp Nou to watch the Champions League game between FC Barcelona and Benfica, where she will be welcome by president Joan Laporta, sporting vice president Rafa Yuste and institutional vicepresident Elena Fort who will present her with a personalised shirt.
Success of the 'Soccer Balls' mission
Farkhunda Muhtaj is a role model for girls in her native Afghanistan and she is also a heroine for the members of the youth national football side given that he she inspired and played a vital role in the mission christened 'Soccer Balls' which helped the footballers escape the country after it fell into the hands of the Taliban.
As captain of the Afghanistan national side she did not think twice about lending her support and help when the accession to power of the Taliban meant that the leaders of the country's football federation told her that they had to get the youth squad out of the country as quickly as possible. She helped the squad with virtual training and yoga sessions as they went from safehouse to safehouse in Afghanistan. She worked remotely on the rescue operation from Canada that was agreed with the Taliban via an international coalition in order to give asylum to the young women aged 16 from the Afghan youth team as well as their families.
Footballer and humanitarian ambassador
Farkhunda Muhtaj emigrated to Canada with her family at the age of two. She studied at York University in Toronto and has an educational degree. She also played for the University football team, the York Lions, for five years, winning the Ontario University Athletics championship. After graduation she continued with the team as assistant coach and also as a research associate studying the transition between student and athlete, and school and university. Before moving to Portugal, she played in the Ontario League 1 with the Vaughan Azzurri.
Farkhunda has never forgotten her Afghan heritage and has always felt the need to help new communities via humanitarian organisations. She set up and ran the Scarborough Simbas, a non-profit making organisation that used sport to help recent arrived immigrants adapt to life in Canada and she also acted as a humanitarian ambassador for the Penny Appeal Canada.
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