Berlin (dpa) - The route to fulfilling her childhood dream took Dorranai Hassan from the well to-do Berlin district of Zehlendorf via Amsterdan to Siliguri in India, where she made her international debut for Afghanistan.
"I really cannot believe it," the 16-year-old goalkeeper told dpa. "Sometimes it is like everything is just a dream."
Though born and raised in the German capital, Hassan's father is from Afghanistan, making her eligible to play for the country.
"I wanted to be an international player since my childhood," said the keeper who is currently in the B-team of Berlin club Hertha 03 Zehlendorf and regarded as a promising talent.
At the end of December, she then stepped up to international level in the South-Asian championship, though the Afghans were outclassed 5-1 by defending champions India.
The next national appearance could be in March against Croatia where the Lions are provisionally entered into the Istria Cup.
"But the support for the journey is not yet there," former player and current coach Khalida Popal warned. She is hoping for sponsors and donations. "We are proud to have been approached to come to Europe for the first time."
Hassan's path to the Afghan team was curious.
"I read a newspaper interview with two Hamburg players and made contact with them," she said. "They passed on my details.
"At a camp in Amsterdam I was then picked for the team by the goalkeeper coach."
Her career is promising. Goalkeeper coach Haley Carter, until recently still playing in America with the Houston Dash, has praised Hassan as a huge talent, as has Hertha 03 coach Peter Heinrich.
"Dora belongs to the extended circle of the Berlin select team," he said. "The call up to the national team will give her further impetus."
Hassan's father came to Germany to study 45 years ago and the senior high schooler has played since she was a young child.
"I have played with the boys in kindergarten," she said. "That was so much fun that I joined the Hertha 03 club in 2009."
At the beginning she played in every position before settling down between the sticks.
"I particularly love goalkeeper," she said. "You can dive around so much."
The majority of players with the Afghan team live abroad. Along with Germany, fleeing from the Taliban has taken players to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the US. Former captain Popal leads the team from Denmark having left Kabul in 2011.
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- Reporting by: Reiner Hennies in Dusseldorf
- Editing by: John Bagratuni
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