Calls of distress, cries for help and more desperation Afghans are being put through what is possibly the worst tragedy the country could have experienced. The collapse of the Afghanistan government and the takeover by the Taliban has placed a question mark on the future of the country. It also means that athletes will face challenging times with the ascendance of the Taliban, who are against organised sport, and used sports stadiums for public executions when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.The safety and rights of Afghan womenincluding those who play sportshave come into sharp focus as the Taliban rapidly gains control of Afghanistans government.Women footballers go into hiding, fear for their livesMany women players and coaches in Afghanistan are on the run, said Khalida Popal, founder and former captain of the Afghan womens soccer team, and director of Girl Power Organization, an NGO that uses sports and education to empower and unify girls and women. Their identities have been exposed, Popal told a leading daily during a telephone interview from Denmark. They are a target group for the terrorists.When they call, all Popal can do is advise them to flee their homes, escape from neighbours who know them as pioneering players, and try to erase their history particularly activism against the Taliban, who are now re-establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. I have been encouraging them to take down social media channels, take down photos, escape and hide. This breaks my heart because all these years we have worked to raise the visibility of women and now Im telling my women in Afghanistan to shut up and disappear. Their lives are in danger, she said.My generation had the hope of building the country, developing the situation for the next generation of women and men in the country, she said. So, I started with other young women, using football as a tool to empower women and girls. We felt so proud of wearing the jersey, Popal said. It was the most beautiful, best feeling ever. It was very painful to see the government surrender. Women lost hope, Popal said.And while the women footballers look for safety, members of the Afghanistan FA fear the backlash of the Taliban for promoting womens football. In just over 10 years, the Afghanistan womens football team have played 19 games and won 8 of them. Currently, they stand ranked 152nd by FIFA out of 167 womens teams.Paralympic pleads for help to leave the countryAmid the fear and turmoil in Afghanistan, the countrys two Paralympic athletes have been prevented from traveling to the Games in Tokyo that begin next week. Zakia Khudadadi, a taekwondo athlete, released a video pleading for help. In the video released from Kabul, Khudadadi said, in a translation by Reuters: I am currently imprisoned inside the house. I cannot even go outside around this house with confidence. My intention is to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Please hold my hand and help me. Khudadadi would have been the first Afghan woman to participate in the Paralympic Games. The other team member is Hossain Rasouli, a track athlete.Its not just women athletes, cricketers seek help as wellWhile women athletes face the problems put forth due to the sudden change, the likes of Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi have pleaded with the world to save their nation. Afghanistan are due to play three ODIs at Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota starting September 1, but that isn't such a sure thing now, despite the Taliban's known indulgent stance on cricket.