Seven female taekwondo athletes have arrived safely in Australia as refugees after an audacious week-long operation to extract them from Afghanistan, championed by former Canberra United coach Heather Garriock.
The group of Afghani athletes, including a 16-year-old girl, landed in Darwin on Wednesday where they will quarantine for two weeks before pursuing new lives in Australia after being granted Humanitarian Visas.
An eighth athlete, for who a Visa has also been secured, remains stuck in Afghanistan and hasn't yet been able to escape the country.
Garriock, the head of Australian Taekwondo, received a call from Afghan native and Melbourne-based international referee Ali Rahimi late last month after he had become aware of the women's plight.
She immediately phoned ex-Socceroo and human rights campaigner Craig Foster, who unhesitatingly offered advice on how to best rescue the group.
Garriock then contacted the John Kotsifas, the president of World Taekwondo Oceania who is also an immigration lawyer.
As requisite paperwork was drawn up, a logistical operation to evacuate the group from Afghanistan was put together, but flying out of Kabul wasn't an option after the Taliban regained control of the country.
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"Plan B was can we get them across the Pakistan border which is extremely dangerous with women since the Taliban has taken over," Garriock said.
"Long story short basically, the girls went through hell.
"They said it was horrific, there were gunshots, the border closed at one stage because fights broke out. For those women to cross the Pakistan border is such a feat within itself, it's just really unheard of.
"There was a moment there where we knew they were traveling, and for two and a half hours they were offline. It was so scary because straight away you're thinking the worst."
After crossing the border, the women had to travel a further 20 hours to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city.
They stayed there for a few days before catching a flight to Dubai, and eventually to Darwin.
"They're now refugees in Australia, and they'll remain refugees for the next four years, then they can become permanent residents," Garriock said.
"From a taekwondo perspective, it's important our whole community has united dramatically and everyone just wants to jump on board to be able to support these girls so they can ease into normality within their lives.
"Ali [Rahimi], he's from Afghanistan, that's how he kept in contact with the girls.
"He kept in contact verbally and I kept in contact via text, the little 16 year old speaks really good English.
"There's one that we're still waiting. She lived in a different part of Afghanistan and it was too dangerous for her to travel with the girls so we're in the midst of trying to get her to Australia.
"I'm just delighted and so happy, such a massive team effort to be honest. There were just so many key people that played such a crucial role to get these women to Australia."