Football star St. Louis connects with Afghan refugees for love of country, sports

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – More than six months after fleeing Afghanistan in fear for her life, 25-year-old Laily Armghan is settling into her job in South City.

Armghan often walks to and from her apartment to work overnight shifts at a nearby factory. On arrival in St. Louis last year, she lived in a hotel for three months, run by St. Louis allows.

“I am the target if I stay in Afghanistan, my life is in danger,” Armghan said through a translator. “I will have to go through a lot of torture, luckily I can escape.”

Since 2011, Armghan says she is a member of the Afghanistan women’s national football team, which plays on behalf of Afghanistan in various countries. Last year, when the Taliban began taking over the country, she decided to flee, leaving behind her family and siblings.

“We spent four days and four nights at the airport in very bad condition,” she said. “Obviously we’ve seen a lot of fighting, killing.”

She was able to take a flight to Qatar and eventually to the United States, resettling in St. Louis.

“It’s a beautiful city, I really like it and want to stay here,” she said.

Upon arrival, Armghan said she told people she loved playing soccer and was eventually connected with former professional soccer player Lori (Chalupny) Lawson.

“When we first met, I didn’t know exactly what position I would fit in,” she says. “I just know that we have this mutual relationship that we both represent our country and have played football at the highest level and wanted to meet her and see what the needs are there and I How can I help?”

Chalupny was part of Team USA’s 2008 gold medal victory at the Beijing Olympics and bronze medalist in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She is currently the head coach of women’s soccer at the World Cup. University of Maryville.

“It’s unbelievable what sport can do, to bring together people from different backgrounds and unite us,” she said.

Armghan now goes to soccer practice with Lawson, attends family events and enjoys spending time with Lawson’s children.

“I am so lucky to have met this family, I can tell with God’s help I was directed to them or they were directed to me,” she said.

Go-Fund-Me was created to help Armghan get on her feet. To donate, click this.

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