A former Afghan national soccer player is fighting to ensure that girls can also play sports. Madina Azizi’s work has attracted both praise and fame, as well as a lot of hostility. Not everyone welcomes her commitment to female self-determination.
Many Afghan families think playing soccer should be taboo for women. It is a view twenty-three-year-old Madina Azizi from Kabul is constantly confronted with - both as a player and as the coach of a girls’ team. In Afghanistan’s strict patriarchal society, most young women stop playing football at the age of 20, when they are seen as being ready for marriage. Once married, few women are allowed to participate in sports, which makes it hard to build and sustain any women's sporting associations. "I'm trying to bring more sports culture to my country. If I don't do it, who will?" asks Madina Azizi. She has the support of Khalida Popal, who was the first captain of the Afghan women's national team in 2008 and now lives in Denmark after receiving death threats in her home country. Together, the two players are determined to help women in their native country and professionalize women’s sport.