Afghan-Danish soccer player Nadia Nadim, who played for Manchester City in 2018 scoring eight goals during her time there, says she could not fathom her life without soccer, but in Afghanistan, where she was born and raised, many are now concerned the ruling Taliban will ban woman and girls from not only soccer, but all sport.
For Nadim, this amounts to nothing less than someone taking away “your freedom to be happy”.
“It just blows my mind that these kinds of rules or these people exist who can take away your freedom to be happy. Because football for me, well sports in general, is something that makes you happy,” Nadim told Reuters on Thursday from Louisville, Kentucky where she currently plays for Louisville Racing FC.
Concern over whether women in Afghanistan will be allowed to play sports heated up after Australian broadcaster SBS quoted a Taliban representative as saying he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket.
The representative reportedly said it was “not necessary” and it would be against Islam if women players faced a situation where their face and body might be “uncovered.”
In response, Australia’s cricket board on Thursday said it will scrap a planned test match against the Afghanistan men’s team if the Taliban rulers do not allow women to play the sport.
Nadim said she was glad to see international sporting bodies putting pressure on the Taliban, but said she was not convinced it would have much of an affect.
“To be honest, I don’t know if that’s going to have an impact… But if you want to bring the change, I think they have to be held accountable for their decisions. Because their decisions are going to impact millions of lives and the future of the country,” she said.
Nadim’s professional career has seen stints with Paris Saint-Germain, where she was before Racing, Manchester City, Portland Thorns and Sky Blue FC in New Jersey.
She also plays for the Danish national team after gaining citizenship to Denmark. She first sought asylum there when she fled her native Afghanistan shortly after the Taliban first came to power some 20 years ago.
After the regime killed her father, a former army general, Nadim says she and her family were smuggled through Pakistan and onto Italy before finally arriving at refugee came in Denmark where she was first introduced to soccer.
“That’s also where I fell in love with the game of football because the refugee camp was close to a football club. And yeah, from then, I started the life that I know right now,” she said.
While sport has been good to Nadim, she says she can sympathize with the hardships many people currently face in the country she was forced to flee two decades ago.
“Yeah, I definitely feel and have empathy with people who are going through that right now. Because I know, I’ve been through all of that once and I know it’s not a fun position to be in.
“Thinking of the future just looks very dark. You know? So, in that way, I definitely feel with the people there and it does bring back memories from where we were in Afghanistan. And all this chaos and all this frustration and all the fear that you had with you all the time.”
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