Afghanistan Women’s Soccer Team

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

‘I have been very lucky. I’ve been able to be in my country for many years. To have a career in my country, to have my kids educated, to be able to play for my country and get a good education for them, and to have all those things that Afghan women face that I would like to make sure they get, it’s a great feeling.’

By Nadia Nadim

I’ve lived in Afghanistan for about six years, and one of the joys of life there is the beauty of its national football team.

The team is known as the ‘papili’. And the word describes the players as well as their supporters. The word papili describes a group of people who are united because they share a goal to share and give pleasure to one another.

The team was formed in 2003 under the name Afghanistan Women’s Soccer Team. The coach of the team was Jafar Ali. During the time he coached the team, most of them were members of the Afghan diaspora. The women who are members of the team were from Europe and the west of the country. And we thought of the team as representing the Afghan women.

In 2007, the Taliban took over and we knew that we would soon face a different kind of life. And we knew that it would not be easy.

When the Taliban came to power, the lives of women in Afghanistan were made very difficult. I went to work in the government. My husband came to work in the police as the new police chief. But the Taliban banned those two jobs, and we were forced to return to our homes in the hope that these were still possible.

I was sitting in my office trying to do my work and it was the first week of Taliban rule. My husband had to put on a uniform, go to work and come to my office and make sure that there was nothing amiss and that the offices we worked at were safe. One of the first jobs was to clear my office so that the Taliban couldn’t come

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