University of Rochester

Awista Ayub, author and founder of the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange, available for interviews Nov. 11 to 13

October 23, 2009

WHAT: Author and founder of a girls' soccer program in Afghanistan will be in town and available for interviews before and after her Neilly Lecture at the University of Rochester on Nov. 12

INTERVIEW AVAILABITY: Ayub is available for in-person interviews on Wednesday, Nov. 11 during the late afternoon/evening and Thursday and Friday mornings, Nov. 12 and 13.

BACKGROUND: In 1981, when Awista Ayub was only two years old, her family fled Afghanistan for the United States, where Awista flourished, thanks to organized athletics—and where she vowed to make a difference in her home country some day. Soon after the fall of the Taliban, Awista saw her chance: She founded the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange, an organization dedicated to nurturing Afghan girls through soccer. What began with eight young women has exploded into something of a phenomenon. Fifteen teams now compete in an organized league, with hundreds of girls participating through the Afghanistan Football Federation.

Ayub, who graduated from the University of Rochester in 2001 with a major in chemistry and organized a women's ice hockey team during her undergraduate years here, returns to her alma mater on Nov. 12 to deliver the Neilly Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Rush Rhees Library Hawkins-Carlson Room.

The success of the Afghan girls' sports group has brought it, and Ayub, worldwide attention. Ayub has appeared on National Public Radio, ABC News, ESPN, and CNN, and in magazines from Sports Illustrated to Glamour. Published this year, her book, However Tall the Mountain: A Dream, Eight Girls, and a Journey Home, chronicles the story of the youth exchange and has been called "a testament to the power of hope and the will to dream in a country where so many dreams have been cut short."