Author: Joe

Nadia Nadim: A woman’s footballer in Afghanistan

Nadia Nadim: A woman’s footballer in Afghanistan

Nadia Nadim on women’s football in Afghanistan one year on from Taliban takeover

Nadia Nadim remembers a day in Kabul when the war was still on, with the city divided in two: for soldiers, it was the men’s capital; for citizens, it was women’s.

The former international women’s footballer has lived in Afghanistan for 19 years, since she was at school in Kabul. She plays for the Afghan women’s football team Dala-e-Watan.

On 16th October 2009, then President Hamid Karzai issued a ban on women’s teams in Afghanistan until 2015, saying: ‘I think football is not a suitable sport for women’. The ban was criticised by women’s rights organisations in Afghanistan.

Women’s football

Women’s football is in the top three sports in Afghanistan, and has had a rapid growth in popularity. There are more than 3 million Afghan girls aged between seven and 17 playing football at the moment. For Afghan girls who love football, and who have been deprived of playing the sport for a long time, Nadia Nadim knows the sacrifices women have had to make to get the sport.

With her team, Dala-e-Watan, Nadia does play with a woman’s football shirt, but women are encouraged to wear pink, so there is no difference in appearance.

While women’s football has grown in popularity, it is still not on the same level as men’s football. For example, both men and women’s football has only one male coach, and the same female assistant coach. Afghan women’s football may not be on the same level as men’s, but it is at least more diverse.

Despite the lack of opportunities for women, Nadia Nadim remains optimistic, both because of the positive atmosphere at her games and she has been invited to play in New Zealand in 2012.

‘When I started playing football in Afghanistan, there were not many women players at all: not even in professional competitions. Now, I am one of the most famous players. But in Afghanistan, there are still many women players. At the beginning, they were not interested in playing football, but now they

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