Nadia Nadim on women’s football in Afghanistan one year on from Taliban takeover
‘I think it’s a positive movement’
Nadia Nadim has just returned from Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in September. She met the president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Afghanistan, Akbar Kandahari, who now acts as the most powerful member of the new government. He was a football fan – the Taliban took over the country’s football federation in 2006.
On a tour of public buildings, Nadim was impressed by the new government’s plan to open up the education system. “The whole government supports football,” she says. “I think it’s a positive movement and I can’t wait to see its impact.”
Nadia Nadim, who now lives in Britain, went back to Afghanistan in September after hearing that the Taliban had taken control of the country’s football federation.
Football is a deeply entrenched part of Afghan culture, with a deep, ancient history that stretches back into the early Islamic era when a tradition of kicking balls in public was developed.
Football’s popularity has continued to grow throughout the 20th century, with the Afghan national team making their first appearances in international matches in 1950.
Football has also been a very strong part of the Afghan diaspora, with more than half of the country’s population now living abroad.
The sport’s influence has spread far beyond its domestic scene as well. In August 2010, Nadim went to Dubai to watch the team play England, a match that was televised to more than one billion people worldwide.
The new government believes there are lessons to be learnt from football’s experience. In the last three years of his presidency, Kandahari has launched an ambitious development plan based on sport and good governance.
When Nadim first went to Afghanistan, there were no facilities in the country to compete with. Afghan clubs had just been incorporated through a federation created to oversee them.
Kandahari has made a major effort to change that, introducing state funding and state-administered funds for clubs. This will have a significant impact on the development of young, national players.
The government is also considering re-introducing the national federation to the game.
“I think it’s a positive movement and I can’t wait to see its impact,” says Nadim, who is