Afghan-Danish footballer fears for fate of women living under Taliban

Nadia Nadim, who fled former regime as a child, has no faith in Afghanistan's new rulers and their vow to protect women’s rights

A Danish footballer who fled Afghanistan after her father was executed by the Taliban says it is “heart-breaking” to watch the hardline group’s return to power.

Nadia Nadim, who now plays for American club Racing Louisville FC, told Sky News she did not believe the group would honour its promise that women and girls would continue to have the right to work and education.

"I know what kind of rules they bring in and I know what that means for the future of the country, what that means for the development of the country, what it means for the women, and the girls. I think that's a real step back. I feel very upset and sad for the people who live in the country," said Ms Nadim, 33, who grew up in a refugee camp in Denmark after leaving her home country as a child.

“I think they are the wolves that have disguised themselves as sheep right now and their true colours are going to come through," she said of the Taliban. "I don't think their core values have changed and their core values were the reason me and my family left the country."

Born in Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city, Ms Nadim’s mother and five daughters sought a safe haven abroad after her father, who was in the Afghan Army, was murdered by the Taliban in 2000. Ms Nadim was only 10.

The footballer described her father a “smart and supportive man” who loved sports and gave her her first football as a child.

"My memories are divided into two parts. Before the war, I have very fond memories of the country, of our life, the safe environment. I had my mum and dad. And then I have the second part which is the war, and after my dad was killed,” said the Afghan-Danish forward.

After reaching Pakistan, Ms Nadim’s family made their way by air and road to Denmark where her love of football flourished. After playing her way up through the Danish leagues, she was chosen for the national team in 2009 and has gone on to make 98 appearances, scoring 38 goals.

In 2018, the striker joined the FA Women’s Super League and scored a goal six minutes into her debut for Manchester City. The following year she joined Paris Saint-Germain and went on to win the French League title in the 2020-2021 season.

A campaign for girls and women in Afghanistan launched by Ms Nadim through her football club last month raised $40,000 which has been donated to UN Women and local resettlement organisations.

"I love that people here are trying to help and the money is going to go to people who need it, especially women," she said.

"I feel really powerless right now because I don't know what I can do. What I've been doing is try to create awareness of the situation.”

Updated: September 2nd 2021, 11:25 AM
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