Afghan girls' soccer team settle in Portugal

"I feel I am free."

15-year-old soccer player Sarah says fleeing her homeland, Afghanistan, was painful.

But she's now safely living in Portugal, one of several players from Afghanistan's national female youth soccer squad granted asylum there.

The group left in fear after the Taliban seized power in August.

Sarah now hopes to pursue her dream of playing soccer professionally - and to meet her idol.

“Life in Afghanistan is very difficult for women, for girls, for younger, it’s very difficult because for girls there are not good facilities... My dream is to be a good player, for example Cristiano Ronaldo. And next, I want to be a businesswoman, a big businesswoman.”

Sarah wants to go back home one day - but only if she can live freely.

Her mother, who requested that Reuters did not use their surname, had experienced first-hand a previous era of Taliban rule.

She is less optimistic they will ever be able to return.

Taliban leaders have promised to respect women's rights.

But under their first government, their freedoms were heavily restricted.

A senior Taliban official said after the recent takeover that women would probably not be allowed to play sport.

He claimed it was "not necessary" and their bodies might be exposed.

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