Nadia Nadim on women’s football in Afghanistan one year on from Taliban takeover
The world of women’s football in Afghanistan is now one year old. Since the Taliban banned women’s sports, the football community has come to see itself as the’mother of the game’, and has been struggling to come to terms with the transition to a new landscape.
After the Taliban took control of vast swathes of the country in 1996, female footballers across the Arab world and many countries in Europe began to take up the sport. In 1999, in the midst of a wave of social unrest, female and male footballers in Afghanistan played a match for the first time. The Taliban were unable to stop them. This act became an inspiration for young women’s footballers across the country, who sought to organise and take over football in their region.
The Taliban initially banned women’s sports and sport in general, especially women’s hockey. They also closed down football grounds and closed down the only women’s hockey club in the country. However, the ban was later lifted, and football began to grow in popularity. It didn’t take long for Afghan women to realise that they were no longer alone. There were more and more opportunities for them to play.
In 2002, the first national team was created in the country, with around 100 women competing across four divisions. This team has gone on to win several titles – most recently the Women’s Football Cup (formerly the Afghanistan Women’s Football Federation Cup) in August of this year.
Following the Taliban’s banning of women’s sports in 1996, female footballers in countries like Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates and Germany began to take up the sport. The following year, in the midst of a wave of social unrest, Afghan women began to take up the sport.
But it wasn’t until 2010 that the Afghan women’s football community began to become aware of the football culture they had created. In the aftermath of the Taliban’s rule, the community began to take on football af