Nadia Nadim on women’s football in Afghanistan one year on from Taliban takeover
Nadia Nadim, the outspoken and determined coach, has been one of the unsung heroes of the Afghan women’s game, one of the few female ambassadors for the sport in the region.
Her outspoken statements that the Taliban had to go have helped propel the women’s game to a position of strength.
Her influence on the progress of women’s football in the country has never been underestimated.
The 27-year-old’s work is recognised in the sport. She was recently awarded the FIFA Women’s Best Coach Award for her work with the Afghan Women’s Team.
Her hard work has also helped her come to the attention of the men’s match officials who, in the early stages of the Taliban’s rule, would give her grief for speaking openly about the women’s game.
“The Taliban would come to my house and say: ‘You are a great player, why don’t you join the women’s team?”” Nadim told Nine to Noon. “I always told them if I had one wish, it would be to play for the women’s team, but I think the Taliban were the first to say this about the women’s club.
“It was just a coincidence, but they were the first to say it. The men’s team was not interested. They told me how to play and how to set up, and then I played against the men, and that was very successful for the women’s team.”
One of the first men to recognise Nadim’s work was former Australian skipper Graham Arnold. He met Nadim when she was a player and invited her to help organise the 1999 World Cup in Qatar.
“I said to her: ‘You don’t know how lucky you are. If you could meet this man, you would be his best friend. I know he has a lot to offer you in many ways.’
“It was a funny thing to say,” she laughs. “But his words stuck with me.”