Breakers and Afghan soccer players inspire each other

(May 31, 2016) - Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe chronicled a recent visit to Boston by an Afghan delegation. Read more below.

These photos and entire article appeared in Tuesday's print version of The Boston Globe and may be found online at

By Stan Grossfeld

When the Boston Breakers score a goal during a home game at Harvard’s Jordan Field, a smoke grenade is detonated behind the goal.

For Hajar Abulfazil, a player on the Afghanistan national women’s soccer team, this is a painful reminder of civil war in her country.

“Sometimes we have not a good situation for playing,” says Abulfazil, who was part of an Afghan women’s sports delegation that made a recent State Department visit to the US, including a stop in Boston. “After an explosion, we don’t stop our playing. We still continue our football.”

The delegation was made up of athletes, coaches, and business leaders in soccer, taekwondo, cricket, and fitness.

The challenges faced by the Afghan women made the Breakers’ troubles seem trivial. The Boston entry in the National Women’s Soccer League started the season 0-5, not scoring a single goal in those games. On May 22, they had to play the two-time defending league champions from Kansas City.

Hours before game time, several Breakers had a heart-to-heart talk with members of the Afghanistan delegation. After hearing about the obstacles they overcame, all of a sudden Kansas City didn’t look so tough.

The Breakers went out and won the game, 1-0, and midfielder McCall Zerboni even gave the Afghans credit for helping them.

“There was a good energy within the group,” said Zerboni. “We got some perspective from the Afghanistan national team and the women who traveled over here, and it just kept the good vibes rolling.

Breakers players meet with the Afghan delegation (Photo By Ryan Wood)

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