Kabul: To protect the safety under the current Taliban rule, former captain of Afghanistan’s women’s soccer team, Khalida Popal, in a recent interview on Wednesday urged female football players to take down their identities, burn their kits. The militants had killed, raped, and stoned women in the past, female footballers were particularly scared of what the future might hold, said Khalida.
The co-founder of the Afghan women’s football league has always supported and told about women empowerment and, used her voice to encourage young women of Afghanistan, “to stand strong, to be bold, to be visible”.
But this time, the message is different. “Today I’m calling them and telling them, take down their names, remove their identities, take down their photos for their safety. I’m even telling them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform,” she said. “And that is painful for me, for someone as an activist who stood up and did everything possible to achieve and earn that identity as a women’s national team player.” “To earn that badge on the chest, to have the right to play and represent our country, how much we were proud.” “They are so afraid. They are worried, they are scared, not only the players but also the activists… they have nobody to go to, to seek protection, to ask for help if they are in danger,” she said of the situation now. “What we are seeing is a country collapsing,” she added. “All the pride and happiness being there to empower women and men of the country is like it was just wasted. They are afraid that any time the door will be knocked.”
Popal said that soccer had allowed the women of Afghanistan to stand tall and strong for their rights and always defy those people who wanted them to stay silent.