Melbourne Victory Afghan Women’s Team Launch the 2023 Hope Cup

The Afghan Women’s Team (AWT) along with Melbourne Victory are pleased to announce the hosting of the inaugural Hope Cup on Tuesday 18 July in Melbourne.

The AWT will play Football Empowerment, a team representing the might of Melbourne’s refugee communities, at CB Smith Reserve in Fawkner.

With the world’s eyes on Australia during the biggest single-sport tournament in the country’s history, the Hope Cup – to be played two-days out from the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup – will highlight the hope of Afghan women footballers to have their right to compete in international competition restored.

Afghan Women’s Team Director and former Afghanistan National Team Captain, Khalida Popal will be in Melbourne for the Hope Cup and believes the match is a testament to the ongoing bravery of the players and their commitment to once again representing their nation.

“We’re incredibly pleased to be involved in the first Hope Cup,” Popal said.

“This game is a celebration of everything football should be. It is a game where we can all express ourselves on the pitch and be two teams that are equal, no matter our background. We want this match to highlight our team’s desire to compete internationally once again with FIFA’s biggest competition being held in just a few days time.

“Playing football and representing your country as a national player is a fundamental human right that should not be denied to any individual. Our team has made significant sacrifices in their lives, utilising football as a means to advocate for their rights and the rights of other Afghan women.

“These sacrifices must not go unnoticed. Governing bodies in football and sports must support the women of Afghanistan during this time and ensure their ability to exercise their human rights, which have been unjustly taken away by the Taliban. The Afghan women’s National team is the only hope left for Afghan women. They are the voices of voiceless sisters.”

Melbourne Victory Director of Football, John Didulica said the ability to host the Afghan Women’s Team in Melbourne at this special moment in time was an honour.

“The huge support we have received from the Melbourne Victory and the broader football community since launching this team is testament to the courage of our Afghan women and it’s critical we continue to platform not only their stories, but their aspiration – which is to have their right to represent their nation restored,” Didulica said.

“Football in Australia has been built on our wonderful migrant communities. Football Empowerment and our Afghan Women’s Team are glowing examples of how football in Australia continues to bring people from diverse backgrounds together.

The match will be attended by Australian Government representatives and His Excellency Wahidullah Waissi, Afghan Ambassador to Australia.

The Hope Cup will be held on Tuesday 18 July at CB Smith Reserve in Fawkner, kick-off 12.00pm with entry free for patrons.