The sponsorship ticks all the boxes for the Barry Plant Group, reflecting a culture that focuses on community engagement, social justice and gender equality.
Barry Plant CEO, Mike McCarthy, believes that the group’s support of these sportswomen works on several levels.
“By helping the Afghan Women’s soccer Team play the sport they love in their adopted country, we are also enabling them to send a clear message to all the women and girls in Afghanistan, who are currently being denied access to education, sport and even the freedom to be outside without male relative, that there is hope.”
“While gender inequality is an issue that affects us here in Australia too, these women are being denied basic human rights and this is a global concern.”
Barry Plant will also offer scholarships, through Barry Plant Real Estate Training, to any team members who want to pursue a career in real estate to study for their required qualifications, and seek to find employment for them within the real estate network.
“Our support won’t stop with the team sponsorship - we will also be there to help them with their careers, should they want it,” Mr McCarthy said.
The Afghan Women’s Team is composed of soccer players who have represented Afghanistan internationally. The members fled their country in fear of being tortured and killed when Kabul was overrun and the Taliban targeted all women who had played sport in public.
A former Captain of the team who now lived in Denmark worked tirelessly to try and find a country to take them in. Finally Craig Foster, a human rights activist and former captain of Australia’s national soccer team was able to announce on a video call that Australia would welcome them.
But that was just the beginning of a long journey. Members of the team spent more than two days at the airport - many with family members - trying to get through an airport gate to provide their documentation to allied forces who were carrying out the evacuations. They were constantly split up, dodging the Taliban and fighting through desperate crowds of people.
Eventually they were on their way to Dubai - the first leg of their journey to Australia - carried in the belly of a military cargo plane.
After arriving in Australia and initially splitting up to play with various local teams across Melbourne, they were soon reunited and taken under the wing of Melbourne Victory Football Club who are providing them with full logistical, administrative and coaching support.
The women play under the name of the Afghan Women’s Team and their uniform is predominantly red - a colour that represents Afghanistan.
Barry Plant have been sponsors of the Melbourne Victory Football Club for several years, but this year when, through their Melbourne Victory connection, they had the opportunity to support this unique group of players, the group leapt at the chance.
Barry Plant are also supporters of Make-A-Wish, raising nearly a million dollars for an organisation that grants wishes for seriously ill children as well as being a corporate partner of the Pat Cronin Foundation, a group that works with young Australians to educate them on the risks of violence and in particular the “coward punch.”