Soccer allowed Afghan refugee to strike a powerful blow against the Taliban

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 02:21:31 PM. Former Portland Thorns star Nadia Nadim, an Afghan refugee who learned to play in a camp in Denmark, earned Danish citizenship, then played for adopted homeland in the women’s World Cup. Her story has become a source of inspiration in her homeland, where women are still fighting for their rights.
Refugee centers are often squalid, desperate places, timeless purgatories for people stuck between a horrific past and an uncertain future. For a lucky few, however, they can be life-changing places, where hope pushes out despair and light breaks through the darkness. At least that’s how it was for Nadia Nadim, who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban killed her father only to find salvation with a soccer ball in rural Denmark. “I’m really grateful to have gotten a second chance to restart my life,” she said “and kind of have all the opportunities I wanted to have.” Decidedly different opportunities than she would have had under the Taliban, which banned females from participating in numerous activities, including studying, working and sports. So it wasn’t until Nadim, then 12, got to Denmark that she discovered soccer. It didn’t take long for her to also discover she was really good at it. “From there, it went really fast. I kind of got obsessed with the game and my obsession led me to here,” she said by phone from Oregon, where last month she helped lead the Portland Thorns to their second National Women’s Soccer League title. A season earlier she had led the team in goals. “I played with everything that you can kick. That’s what made me fall in love with the game. We could not really speak the language and we didn’t have the same clothes as other kids. But no one really cared when we were playing.” Yet, if not for a strange series of events — some frightful, some fortuitous...Read more
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