Cyprus Mail

Afghanistan women’s volleyball team fumes at training conditions in Hangzhou

asian games hangzhou 2022
Athletes from Afghanistan during the Opening Ceremony REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The Afghanistan women’s volleyball team has lamented training conditions at the Asian Games and are concerned they will not be ready for an event where they are participating in defiance of the country’s Taliban rulers.

Khushal Malakzai, who runs the nation’s volleyball programme, said the team had not been able to practise on a court since arriving in Hangzhou last Thursday and were confined to doing fitness work in the gym.

“We still haven’t been able to train,” he told Reuters on Sunday.

“We need to have them training with the ball. I don’t know why they can’t have training for an hour or two when they have all these facilities.

“If they’re not training on court, then it’s like starting from zero.”

Malakzai said they had been allocated one training session two days before the women’s competition starts on Saturday.

Teams at major multi-sport events are usually able to train in regulation facilities multiple times before their event, and often practise daily.

Hangzhou Games organisers said Afghanistan were not alone in missing out on training time on a proper court, with the designated facility not available until Thursday.

“At this point, all countries are treated equally,” organisers told Reuters by email.

“The venue (is) not open to the public until that day.

“After opening, training would be conducted according to the order of their appointments.”

Women’s sport in Afghanistan has been crushed since the Taliban took over from a Western-backed government in August 2021, causing many female athletes to flee the country for fear of persecution.

With the backing of the OCA and the International Olympic Committee, Afghanistan’s exiled national Olympic committee has sent 17 women to compete in athletics, cycling and volleyball at Hangzhou.

The delegation marched at the opening ceremony behind the country’s former, tri-colour flag which is used by international resistance movements and shunned by the Taliban.

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