Israel-Premier Tech owner welcomes Afghan female cyclists and refugees in Italy after leading group's rescue

Team owner Sylvan Adams also highlighted his commitment to partner with two women's teams in 2023

Israel-Premier Tech Afghanistan refugees
(Image credit: Israel-Premier Tech)

Israel-Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams welcomed a group of 70 Afghan refugees - many of them female cyclists and athletes - at Rome's Fiumicino Airport yesterday, after leading the group's rescue operations from Afghanistan.

Adams has been working with an international group comprised of diplomats, UCI President David Lappartient and the Israel NGO IsraAid since September 2021, helping to extract and resettle Afghan refugees. In addition to the group of 70 recently welcomed in Italy, two further groups of 167 Afghans have already been rescued and resettled in France, Switzerland and Canada - the Afghan women's national cycling team among them. 

The latest group of refugees include individuals developing women's sports in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban regime, though, their safety became endangered, and thus had to flee the country. 

They have spent the last nine months in Islamabad, Pakistan, while their diplomatic and bureaucratic issues were resolved and they waited for a visa from Italy. Fortunately, after a long period of waiting, the refugees were granted access to the country.

Explaining his involvement in rescuing and resettling the refugees, Adams thanked Italian journalist Francesca Monzone for raising awareness of the situation and for contacting him directly. 

"I want to personally thank Ms. Monzone, who was the first to contact me and the team with the desperate SOS call that turned our attention," Adams said.

"As a Jew, I am guided by the ancient Jewish cultural imperative called ‘Tikkun Olam’, a Hebrew term translated roughly as ‘improving our world’. This is what guided us in Rwanda where we adopted the women’s cycling team and now plan to build a bike center, and we hope to see the Afghan athletes get a chance to thrive like their counterparts in Rwanda." 

Indeed, Israel-Premier Tech wore a special-edition kit for the Tour de France, as they launched their worldwide fundraising campaign called 'Field of Dreams', designed to to support the youth of Rwanda. The campaign involves building a bike centre, which includes a pump track, race track and future cycling academy across 16 acres of land in Bugesera, Rwanda. 

The aim of the completed complex will be to develop and encourage young cycling talent between the ages of six and 18 by providing opportunities to access the sport. 

Speaking at the welcoming of the Afghan refugees, Adams revealed further plans for the future.  

“It's about giving them the chance to realize their dreams. In fact, we are planning to partner with two professional women’s cycling teams next year – a WorldTour team and a U23 Continental team," Adams said. 

"I would love to see some of these Afghan women cyclists, together with their Rwandan counterparts, as well as perhaps Ukrainian, Israeli, and even Canadian riders reaching their dreams together to become professional cyclists. The door is open.”

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.