Women’s Football in Afghanistan: The Taliban and the Culture of Women’s Football

Women's Football in Afghanistan: The Taliban and the Culture of Women's Football

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

The Taliban stormed into Bamiyan in April 2014, capturing the UNESCO World Heritage site in a series of coordinated attacks on 14 April. The Taliban then imposed a brutal “corrective programme” that forced women to wear full-face veils and men to wear traditional headscarves. Although they were not banned from football it was not long before the sport was banned from public life. In 2015, Nadia Nadim traveled to Bamiyan to discuss the impact of the Taliban regime on women, football and the culture of women’s football.

The following is an edited transcript:

How has the culture of women’s football in Afghanistan changed since the Taliban takeover?

Nadia Nadim: Before the Taliban took over the country, women were able to play all kinds of sports, all kinds of sports. But as soon as they took over, they started to ban all sorts of sports. They started to put men behind closed doors and then said, “Well, we can’t have our men doing sport, so the only option is to do sport on the side.” It was just really, really, really hard for women to play football.

What happened after the Taliban takeover?

Nadia Nadim: Well, the Taliban banned it completely. They banned it from public life, even from weddings. They banned it from going out in the public because the Taliban said, “If you have a woman in your wedding, you’ll get married, but if there’s a man, they’ll make you go back in the home.” So it stopped being a part of the lives of women. And so the life of women became very different.

So how did you end up doing it?

Nadia Nadim: I was actually raised not to do football. I came from a background where we didn’t see football as a game. So when I was growing up, we never played football, we never watched football, we didn’t even talk about football. I remember growing up, I’d play football in the garden. I had really strong legs, and we used to play a lot. We used to have games in

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