AWT’s Montaha: Shared history and memories forge strong team bond

Montaha holds dear the slice of home the Afghanistan Women’s Team provides, saying it’s crucial the team sticks together on and off the field.

“Our shared histories and memories from playing soccer, together back in our home country creates a strong bond,” Montaha said.

“And we have become like a family supporting one another through joys and sorrows. 

“I think by staying together, by staying united we continue to create new cherished memories, making our team stronger and our experience even more meaningful.”

Since arriving in Australia nearly two years ago, a lot has changed for Montaha. She said in Afghanistan she had the support of her family and soccer was only a team.

“But when I came here, I left my family behind, so the team has become like a family to me,” she said.

“And the team helps me to be strong and to be hopeful and positive that one day, my family will come here. These are the things that make our team like a family.”

Montaha also arrived with her 16-year-old brother, who she cares for alongside studying a diploma of business at RMIT.

On the field, one international experience with the Afghanistan national team stands out for her – a trip to Tajikistan.

“We had a match against, I think, Kurdistan,” Montaha said.

“And for that game there was snowy weather. When we were trying to pass the ball or trying to shoot, it was really hard for us. All the ground was snowing and every step if we wanted to run, it was really hard.”

A come from behind 2-1 win, she said made the match a really enjoyable moment.

Now playing in Melbourne, Montaha described it as an “incredible experience”.

“The vibrant sports culture and passionate community make every single game exciting, and the competitive experience and friendship environment to help our teammates really make my time truly enjoyable.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic soccer team.”

Whether it’s in midfield or goalkeeper, Montaha’s focus to be a team player remains the same.

“It doesn’t matter what position I play in, as long as I’m able to play soccer it doesn’t matter which position,” she said.

“I’m always wanting to support my teammates and to contribute to the collective efforts. I bring determination, skills and a work ethic to the game. So I’m constantly striving to improve and make a positive impact on the field.”

The 21-year-old deputised as goalkeeper in the first two games of the season in the absence of captain Fatima. Wearing the gloves is something she’s familiar with, however she has also made midfield her home.

Montaha said scoring a goal, whether herself or the team, was the best part of the game.

“We’re always trying to achieve something that we truly want, like before every game we want to win,” she said.

“When we are scoring for the first time, or the first goal of a game, we are really enjoying it and we really appreciate every single player who’s part of the goals and they really try their best to score goals.

“At the moment, scoring a goal is really meaningful for us and enjoyable.”