The Women’s Football Team in Afghanistan

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

When Nadia Nadim returned to her family in the United States for the first time in 20 months on Christmas day, she did not know how she was going to explain the situation in her homeland to her family.

Nadim had been living, with her family, in the village of Zawl on the outskirts of Kabul, when Taliban fighters stormed their home and her husband. The Taliban had taken over the police force, and Nadim’s family had no way of knowing when, or if, the insurgents would ever let go of their village.

This was a year to the day after the Taliban fighters had conquered Kunduz, capital of the eastern province bordering Pakistan, and taken it over.

But despite the difficult situation in Kunduz and for Nadim, the Taliban takeover had only just begun.

In September 2014, Nadim’s family had fled the Taliban occupation, and Nadim had set off to return home on a short visit. But she changed her mind just 15 minutes outside of the front gate.

The road to the centre of town had become a scene of burning vehicles, and the family could not get through. At one point, she had to call on the Taliban. The insurgents agreed to let them through, and Nadim’s family was in the village that would later be named after Nadim.

But Nadim didn’t stop at returning to her village: she joined the women’s football team and helped rebuild the sport in Afghanistan. Nadim and Nadim’s colleagues played together for the first time in seven years earlier this year.

Today, Nadim returned to the team after her husband, a former policeman, had been killed fighting alongside the Taliban. With him gone, the football team is now just 10 women players strong.

After her husband died, Nadim said she felt she could never leave her home again.

Nadim had been a keen sport

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