The winner of the Afghan women’s wheelchair.

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The winner of the Afghan women’s wheelchair.

These women used to be so nervous when they played wheelchair basketball in public that they used opaque screens to hide the site.

Now their faces are running through the Afghan media.

On Sunday, the national women’s wheelchair basketball team won the first prize in the fourth Bali cup international competition in Indonesia. It competed with women’s teams from India, Indonesia and Thailand, beating Thailand 65-25 in the final.

This is the first time the team has participated in an international competition. “I’m happy to win that honor,” said Nilofar Bayat, a member of the Afghan News channel Tolo News. “The team is very strong, but we are stronger when we play and win.

The team’s American coach, Jess Markt, has been training 11 members of the national team since 2012. Due to scheduling conflicts, he cannot attend the Indonesian championship coach – Afghanistan Tahera Yosoufi and Wasiqullah Sediqi and women travel together – he in the past five years saw the change of female players.

“They are I have been involved in one of the greatest sports story,” said Markt, he once including in Afghanistan, India and south Sudan, the national training of the international committee of the Red Cross’s wheelchair basketball team. “I’m very proud of them.”

Afghan women compete at home in the 2016 tournament in Kabul before the national team takes part in international competitions.

Thomas grass/thanks to the ICRC.

When the Afghan team first started shooting, the players were worried that their families and friends might think of them. In Afghanistan, he explains, women are hard enough, and it is unheard of for women to use wheelchairs.

That’s why women between the ages of 17 and 30 initially asked for screens around the courthouse, he said. But after the women saw how excited the 2013 men’s wheelchair basketball game was, they told Markt: “we want people to see us play and get the screen.”

With the support of the international committee of the Red Cross, Afghan women’s wheelchair basketball programs have been welcomed, Markt said. The international committee of the Red Cross helps them practice venues, establish courts, provide equipment, and even provide taxi fares to players who need to ride the game. Today, there are 120 female wheelchair basketball players in Afghanistan. Many of them cannot use their limbs because of polio, birth defects or war-related injuries.

“Other disabled girls see women do incredible things and say, ‘I want to be like them,'” Markt said. “The national team has become a national model for girls.”

Markt will return to Afghanistan in October to host national competitions for men and women. He hopes to bring the women to Thailand for another match.

The trip to Thailand in April brought extra benefits: the first visit to the beach.

Thanks to the international committee of the Red Cross.

The women’s national team used to attend wheelchair basketball training camps in Thailand. This is the first time a player has travelled internationally and played against a foreign woman. It was the first time they had ever seen a beach.

Markt recalled that they reached open water as quickly as possible. “They wear headscarves and beautiful Afghan clothes,” he said. “It’s an incredible sight.”

When they arrived in Indonesia last week, the women felt like “beach veterans,” Markt joked.

“We’ve done this before, it’s not a big deal,” the players said, dipping some in the blue waters of Bali.

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