The soccer player who grew up and fled in search of a better future and the situation she experienced 20 years ago serves to contextualize what is happening in Afghanistan today.
Nadia Nadim, the soccer player who fled from the Taliban regime
History repeats itself, time seems not to have passed and terror reigns in the streets of the Afghan region. Today, the Taliban regime took power after overthrowing Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, and the measures in place have led to setbacks in terms of social and economic gains.
The oppression of women is one of the most alarming factors and the application of prohibitions of various kinds is of concern to the whole world. Women could not receive an education, leave their homes to work, or go out without the company of a man.
The use of burkas from head to toe is completely obligatory, and they could not be treated by male doctors, among many other restrictions.
Nadia Nadim currently plays as a striker for Racing Louisville FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, but her childhood was an uphill struggle.
Born in western Afghanistan in Harat on January 2, 1988, her father Rabani Khan was a general in the Afghan army and a well-known person. Together with his mother and three sisters they lived in an apartment protected by heavy security, but when they went outside the protection ended and fear lurked.
“It’s pretty simple, when you’re a kid they tell you: don’t cross that line or they’re going to kill you,” he recounted in an interview with The Players Tribune. In 2000, his father went to a meeting and never returned. The Taliban regime kidnapped and killed him in the desert.
Her mother had to take care of her and her three sisters in a context where power was in the hands of a government that oppressed women. It was then that she decided to emigrate to another region. She sold her house, her jewelry, gathered as much money as possible and hired a human trafficker to take care of her and her daughters’ transportation to London.
Nadia was 12 years old when she started the journey with false passports. They arrived in Italy and boarded a truck that was supposed to drop them off near the iconic “Big Ben” clock tower, but it did not. The move ended in Denmark.
After a short time in a small town called Randers, they were transferred to a refugee camp. For seven months they lived with uncertainty and fear of deportation.
This is how she started her life away from Afghanistan and in an interview with The Players Tribune she explained, “Some people ask why refugees go to their country, but no one would leave their home, their friends, their loved ones, voluntarily to go to a place where they probably won’t be accepted. Who would do that voluntarily? Nobody. They are forced into it. Some are actually escaping the war.”
In Denmark she started playing soccer, but never really felt comfortable. Her teammates looked down on her and her coach asked her to be more like the rest of the players.
She eventually went on to represent the United States and played for Sky Blues FC, Portland Thorns, then Manchester City in England, PSG in France and currently wears the colors of Racing Louisville.
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The striker, who in 2020, scored seven goals in a match for PSG against GSPSO 92 Issy, posted on social networks various messages of support for her country and is part of The Womans Cup, which is currently raising money for Afghanistan.
When explaining why he chose to tell his story, he says that he does not identify with the idea that athletes cannot express themselves about this type of causes and stresses the importance of making a contribution to build a better future.