Mosul girls who fled Islamic State find confidence with football: 'It's not just for men'

They gathered in the Kurdish town of Koya for the match.

Mosul girls who fled Islamic State find confidence with football: 'It's not just for men'UNICEF/Rfaat

The Battle for Mosul is nearing the six-month mark, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced as Iraqi forces continue the fight to retake the city from Islamic State (Isis), which began in October.

Months after fleeing the city, a group of young girls have found their feet with football – and gathered in the Kurdish town of Koya to play a match.

In a video shared by Unicef Iraq, the girls are seen having a kickabout with young Kurdish locals, while others gather along the sidelines.

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"I can play because I have confidence. Football is good for everyone. It's not just for men, it's for women, too," said Mary, a 13-year-old.

Mosul is Iraq's second city and was where Isis declared a caliphate nearly three years ago.

Thousands of civilians have fleed the city, with the majority taking refuge in nearby camps and reception centres.

The number of people displaced from the western side of Mosul has already surpassed 200,000 since operations were launched in February to retake the region, according to the Iraqi government.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain in the area, where food and clean drinking water are in very short supply.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that more than one million people could be displaced by the offensive from Iraqi forces to retake the city.

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