They fear the threat of the Taliban. Afghan female players are banned from playing sports

Noura’s insistence on playing sports was so great that she defied her family’s rejection for years, and her mother’s beatings and taking her in around the neighbors have not stopped her from playing the sport she loves.

But the 20-year-old Afghan girl was not in able to challenge the Taliban government in her country, Noura and other women say they not only banned all sports for women and girls, but also terrorized and harassed all who played these games, and often even intimidated them from practicing alone.

“I am no longer the person I was”, says Noura, whose decision has marked her deeply, “since the arrival of the Taliban, I feel as if I were dead”.

Several girls and women who played a variety of sports told the Associated Press that they were intimidated by the Taliban with visits and phone calls warning them not to exercise.

The women and girls spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of further threats.

These girls agreed to pose for the Associated Press camera to take pictures in the sports gear they loved. They concealed their identities with burqas, headscarves and headscarves that covered their entire faces.

These girls usually don’t wear the burqa, but now they wear it sometimes when they leave the house and they don’t want to remain anonymous and avoid harassment.

The ban on sports is part of a series of restrictions imposed by the Taliban that have halted the lives of girls and women.

Since taking control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have barred girls from attending middle and high schools and also ordered the expulsion of all women from universities last month.

Life has become very difficult for me but I am a fighter so I will continue to live and fight

Afghan martial arts player

The Taliban also ordered women to cover their hair and face in public and have forbidden them to go to parks or gyms. It has imposed restrictions that have undermined women’s ability to work outside the home and recently barred non-governmental organizations from hiring women, in a move that is expected to hamper the flow of aid to the country.

Prior to Taliban rule, women’s sports were opposed by many in Afghan conservative society, who saw them as an affront to decency and the role of women in society. However, the previous internationally supported government set up programs to promote women’s sports, school clubs, national women’s leagues and sports teams. in many sports.

20-year-old mixed martial artist recalls, participating in a local women’s tournament in August 2021 in a sports hall in Kabul, which spread among the audience and participants the news that the Taliban movement was on the outskirts of the city, which prompted all the women and girls to flee the city. This was the last competition the young athlete ever entered.

He indicated that after several months he tried to train the girls in a private location, but Taliban fighters raided the gym in which they were training and arrested them all.

Noura said the girls were humiliated and taken in ride while in custody. After mediation by the elders of the region, they were released after being promised not to do any exercise.

Noura still practices at home and sometimes trains her best friends.

“Life has become very difficult for me, but I’m a fighter, so I will continue to live and fight,” she says.

Mishwanai, a spokesman for the Taliban government’s sports organization and the National Olympic Committee, said the authorities were looking for a way to restore women’s sports by allocating separate sports venues. But she did not specify a time frame and said funding was badly needed to do so. The Taliban authorities have made similar promises in passed to allow girls in seventh grade and above to go back to school, but they haven’t yet.

Nora has faced resistance all her life trying to play sports.

Noora is all grown up in a poor neighborhood in Kabul to parents who emigrated from the provinces and started playing football with local boys on the street. When she was nine, she was discovered by a coach and, with her encouragement, she joined a girls soccer team.

When the girl becomes famous in all countries of the world, his photo appears in television, and it’s one of the happiest days of his life. But for me that day was the most miserable and the beginning of worse days

Afghan martial arts player

He kept it a secret from everyone except his father, but his talent was the cause of his misery. At the age of 13, she was named the best female soccer player in her age group and her photo and her name were published in television.

She said, “When a girl gets famous in all countries of the world, his photo appears in television, and it’s one of the happiest days of his life. But for me, that day was the most miserable and the beginning of worse days. .”

Her angry mother beat her and forbade her to play soccer, but she continued to play in secret. Her talent was exposed again when her team won a national championship and her image made headlines. And again her mother beat her.

Even so, I arrived at the awards ceremony and collapsed on stage as the audience cheered. “I was crying because of the loneliness and difficult life I’ve had,” she said.

When her mother found out, she set fire to her clothes and shoes.

Noura gave up soccer, but then switched to boxing. Her mother finally gave in, realizing that she couldn’t stop her from playing sports.

The day in when the Taliban entered Kabul, he said, his coach called his mother and said that Noura had to go to the airport to leave the country. Noura said her mother didn’t tell her her letter because she didn’t want her to leave. When she found out the message – too late – Noura said that she had cut her arteries and they had to take her in hospital. “The world has gone dark to me,” she said.

Three months later, someone who identified himself as a member of the Taliban called the family and threatened them.

Wrapped in her burqa, she left Kabul to return to her family’s hometown. She eventually returned to Kabul, but she is still afraid.

“Even though my life was difficult before, I had a lot of confidence in myself and knew I could get what I wanted. But now I don’t have much hope anymore,” she said.

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