Saleha Kashfi is sixteen years old and plays for one of the two Austrian women’s teams at the Graz 2018 European Street Football Festival. The team is managed by Kicking Without Borders (Kicken Ohne Grenzen) – an organisation that aims at social integration through football and other activities.
The project was originally intended to work with young refugees and migrants to help them integrate and develop skills through sport, but it is now widening its focus to also working with underprivileged youth.
Like many of the girls in her team, Saleha is originally from Afghanistan. “We have been living in Vienna for almost two years,” says Saleha. “Before that we lived in Afghanistan, but we had to leave because it was not safe for us to stay there.”
Saleha admits that sometimes she misses her country, especially the language and culture, but overall she is happy living in Austria. “I like living in Vienna, I feel I can live free and safe.” Sealeha attends secondary school, and plays in two football clubs three times a week. “I love football. When I play football it is like my mind empties and I forget all my problems. I feel light, free.” Her love for the sport is evident, as she passionately shouts commands to her team while on the pitch, she is however happy “simply being here and making friends with the other teams.”
Saleha has many goals for the future, in addition to playing as much football as she can, she would like to become a journalist.