Monday 11th October 2021
A Statement from Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman of the ROKiT Group of Companies, Regarding the Afghan National Women’s Junior Football Team to be Granted UK Visas.
ROKiT were approached in September with a request to assist financially in the urgently required evacuation of the Afghan National Women’s Junior Football Team and their immediate families from Afghanistan and I decided we had to help immediately and at pace.
From a humanitarian perspective, there was simply no option.
As such, I committed to support the effort and I tasked Siu-Anne Marie Gill, through our independent ROKiT Foundation, to see it through.
The 35 young footballers, mostly teenagers, and their families – a total of 130 people – just missed the airlift evacuations from Kabul and were then in a hugely dangerous, life-threatening, position should they not find a way to leave Afghanistan.
With the assistance of some very brave people on the ground in Afghanistan, the girls made the perilous journey in small family groups to the Pakistan border and all were, eventually, able to get through.
Once inside Pakistan, who had kindly granted them temporary 30 day visas, they were transported to the relative safety of Lahore before the vital process of applying for UK visas could begin.
Essentially, this is a three phase operation from ROKiT’s perspective wherein the first phase has been the successful evacuation of the girls and their families from Afghanistan.
The second phase being the safe accommodation of the girls in Pakistan and the now successful application for UK visas.
The third phase, to come in the next couple of weeks, will be the relocation of the girls and their families to the UK.
We are deeply grateful for the personal involvement in this tremendous effort to date by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the Pakistan Football Federation, the NGO Football for Peace and the former Captain of the Afghan National Women’s Football Team, Khalida Popal. There are others we also wish to thank but, for security reasons, we cannot name.
I am immensely proud of the ROKiT Foundation’s involvement and investment in this life-changing and life-saving project and I look forward to seeing the girls realise a much brighter future for themselves and their families in the UK.
Siu-Anne Marie Gill of the ROKiT Foundation added “This has a been a team effort, like football itself, and these young players, with whom we are in regular contact via video calls, are absolutely thrilled and relieved to have been given the opportunities that will come available to them in their new lives in the UK. The ROKiT Foundation will continue to support them as they settle into their new home in the coming weeks, to include helping to arrange further education, where possible as well as trials for the players with several of the English professional women’s football teams who have already expressed great interest in meeting them.”