Playing professional volleyball is only something that few can dream of, and nothing could be truer when we consider those pursuing such goals in war-torn Afghanistan.
The recent resurgence of the Taliban has cast doubt on the future of women's volleyball, as it has done for most women’s sports, after a series of incidents occurred in which players were targeted with threats and violence.
For the purposes of safety, 'Sophia', a pseudonym to cover her real identity, spoke about how her former teammate was brutally shot. In a heartfelt BBC interview, Sophia laid the blame firmly at the hands of the Taliban.
She remarked: "I'm sure it was the Taliban. At that time, the Taliban was overtaking all of the cities, and there were no other groups that would do this."
Such an attack has led to swathes of people fleeing the country and seeking asylum. That has not just been limited to sports players, but people in general. This begs the question of what does the future hold for women's sports?
According to Sophia, it looks very bleak. She added: "She was only a player, and she didn't do anything for people to want to attack her. We are all shocked about how it happened. We couldn't believe it. Maybe we will lose other friends."
Those who have not managed to escape or face impossible hurdles in doing so are left with a tough decision. Do they give up what they so desperately desire, or do they stand firm in the face of such danger?
Sadly, it looks to be the former. Sophia continued: "They even burned their sports equipment to save themselves...The Taliban asked our players' families to not allow their girls to do sport. Otherwise, they will be faced with unexpected violence."
And yet, not everyone is lying down quickly. Zahra Fayazi is another former volleyball player, who fled Afghanistan before arriving in the UK just last month. And she is determined not to have others suffer from these dire consequences: "We don't want this to repeat for our other players," she said.
Writer - Onside Sports Podcast