Benfica Foundation makes a difference with Welcome Through Football
By utilising the motto of ‘Making the Difference’ and initiative of the Welcome Through Football project, the community-focused arm of SL Benfica – the Benfica Foundation – helped in the integration of Afghan women’s national team members with footballers from the club through training sessions.
On the 1st of October, the captain of the Afghanistan women’s football team Farkunda Muhtaj was welcomed by the club first at the Estádio da Tapadinha, a 4,000 seater stadium in Lisbon, where she was the recipient of a personalized Benfica jersey, before heading to the world-famous Estádio da Luz, where the young Afghan girls trained with the club’s players and received kits for the U15 and U16 teams. By doing so, Muhtaj became the first Afghani woman to train with the senior squad of the Benfica women’s team. This was an opportunity granted by the Welcome Through Football project that has its main objective to integrate and help refugees and migrants.
“I want to thank Benfica for all they have done for the Afghan women’s national team, an incredible gift – this opportunity for the Afghan national youth team to play against the young Benfica players and I was given the chance to train with the female senior team. Thank you for your support, generosity and kindness.”Farkhunda Muhtaj, Afghanistan women’s national team captain
Benfica Foundation has long been at the forefront of humanitarian assistance, taking this chance to showcase the spirit of unity and solidarity. This was a tad bit more special due to the initiative being focused solely on women’s football. With Afghanistan facing a dire crisis due to political uprisings, it is pre-emptive that the international community takes a step ahead and caters to social integration and community development of those in need.
“Benfica is always available to everyone, whether they are more or less needy. But, for those in great need, we have to be present in all areas such as disasters or refugees.”
Carlos Moia, executive president of the Benfica Foundation
On the 2nd of October, the synthetic pitch of the Sport Lisboa e Benfica Stadium was the stage for a social moment between female athletes from the Club and Afghanistan. A game in which a common passion was evident (playing football), as well as the spirit of unity and solidarity.
In an initiative led by the Benfica Foundation, it was possible to bring together young female footballers from Benfica and Afghanistan. Always on the frontline when it comes to humanitarian assistance, the Benfica Foundation did not miss the call and, once again, extended its hand to those who need it most. Before the training session held in the afternoon, the young Afghans had the opportunity to visit Sport Lisboa e Benfica’s Stadium. Afterwards, already on the synthetic field, each of the athletes was presented with a kit delivered by the Under-15 and Under-16 teams of Glorioso.
A moment closely followed by the Executive President of the Benfica Foundation, Carlos Moia, and by the captain of the Afghanistan women’s national team, Farkhunda Muhtaj – who also received a jersey from Carlos Moia. Moia was the first to address a few words to the working group of young Afghan girls.
“People in Portugal are generous, very welcoming and you will feel that. Benfica wants to give you several experiences and, for now, this kit that you have been given will help you to continue doing what you really like: playing football. On Tuesday you will be attending the UEFA Champions League match between Benfica’s women’s team and Bayern Munich. We wish them all the best and in Portugal they can see how friendly we are with everyone,” he said.
With several restrictions in Afghanistan, the captain of the women’s football team was the spokesperson for the dream of these young women: to play football.
“In Afghanistan, playing football is going against social norms. Many girls are looking for a positive life when they compete in sports and especially in football. Football is their identity and that’s what they love to do. It is their passion. So, to be able to continue this journey and have a new chapter in their life, they have a fantastic opportunity here around a world-class club. Benfica provides top facilities, so much support for these girls and now they are training here with the Benfica girls in wonderful facilities. They are so lucky and thank Benfica, the Portuguese people for continuing to provide these girls with excellent training conditions.”