Kim Kardashian, Leeds United and a New York rabbi have all helped members of Afghanistan‘s women’s youth development soccer team fly to Britain early Thursday, after being flown from Pakistan.
The chartered flight carried more than 30 teenage players and their families, about 130 people in all and landed at Stansted Airport near London.
Women playing sports was seen as a political act of defiance against the Taliban, and hundreds of female athletes have left Afghanistan since the group returned to power and began curbing women’s education and freedoms.
Khalida Popal, a former captain of Afghanistan‘s national women’s team who has spearheaded evacuation efforts for female athletes, said she felt “so happy and so relieved” that the girls and women were out of danger.
“Many of those families left their houses when the Taliban took over. Their houses were burnt down,” Popal told The Associated Press.
“Some of their family members were killed or taken by Taliban. So the danger and the stress was very high, and that’s why it was very important to move fast to get them outside Afghanistan.”