WATCH: The Afghan-Kiwi thrilled to volunteer at FIFA Women’s World Cup

A young woman who kept her love of football quiet as a teenager can now celebrate with the world as she prepares to work as a volunteer at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.

Born and raised in Afghanistan, where sport was not encouraged for women, Somaya Hassani was introduced to football by a teacher.

“I thought football was very boring and that it was only for boys, but when I attended and trained I was like ‘wow, this is a different world’,” Hassani told 1News reporter Jessica Dermody.

Despite playing for Afghanistan at junior and senior levels, she kept her participation low-key.

“I was quite secretive about playing football,” she said.

“When it comes to women being a sportsperson, (my country) isn’t open-minded… I know the reality but somehow I have goals to do something like that, to reach somewhere, to do something. I can say that football built me, my personality, and obviously my physique,” she said.

‘I want to help my community’

She moved to New Zealand and joined Ellerslie AFC in 2018.

“They were very supportive. I was new, I was nervous — a new community, new country, and because I was a Muslim, I was like ‘oh God, there’s going to be a big difference’.

“But everyone approached me and included me in everything,” she said.

Now 22, Hassani is one of 5,000 volunteers who will help run the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament when it starts on Thursday July 20.

“Why not volunteer? I want to help my community, and be a host and share the hospitality of New Zealand for the world,” she said.

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