In the desperate calls and voicemails they make to you, Khalida popal you can hear the anguish and crying between pleas for help. The Afghanistan women’s national team players, to whose formation Popal contributed, now they fear for their lives because the Taliban have regained control of the country after two decades.
When they call her Popal can only advise them to flee their homes, from neighbors who know they are pioneers of the sport, and try to erase their history, in particular his activism against the Taliban, which has begun to reestablish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
“I have encouraged them to remove their social media channels, photos, run away and hide. It breaks my heart because all these years we have worked to increase the visibility of women And now I’m telling my women in Afghanistan that they hide and disappear. Their lives are in danger, ”Popal told The Associated Press.
Popal, 34, can barely comprehend the speed of the fall of the afghan government and the feeling of being abandoned by the Western nations that helped topple the Taliban in 2001. After fleeing with her family when the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996, Popal returned to Afghanistan two decades ago as a teenager who lived in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Thanks to the protection of the international community, Popal was optimistic that women’s rights would be promoted.
My generation hoped to rebuild the country, developing the conditions for the next generation of women and men in the country. So I started with other young women, using soccer as an instrument to empower women and girls“, He said.
By 2007 there were enough players and Popal was part of the first Afghan women’s team.