The captain of the Afghan wheelchair basketball team made her debut for her new Spanish team on Saturday to cheers and applause just over a month after fleeing Kabul when the Taliban came to power.
Nilofar Bayat, 28, and her husband Ramesh Naik Zai, 27, were offered the chance to play for Bidaideak Bilbao BSR, a wheelchair basketball team from the northern city of Bilbao. They arrived in Madrid from Kabul on August 20 on a flight with 100 other refugees thanks to the efforts of the Spanish government and the Spanish Basketball Federation.
âI have never had so much kindness and so much respect. When I saw how welcoming they areâ¦ I felt that here can be my second home, I can be very happy here,â said Bayat, 28, to Reuters after the game. . It was the first time that Bayat played in a mixed team. On Saturday she was the only woman to play for Bidaideak Bilbao BSR in the team’s friendly against Fundacion Vital Zuzenak.
“It was very new to me, in Afghanistan it’s not like that,” she said. “The teams are very separate and we don’t play together, but it was very nice.” Bayat rolled onto the pitch to a standing ovation from the crowd. Then she and her husband received flowers. (Written by Jessica Jones Editing by Frances Kerry)
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