Will Afghanistan Force Female Soccer Players From The Field For Peace With Taliban?

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In the two decades since the Taliban lost power, Afghan women have made enormous progress. Today, they play soccer in a Kabul stadium, but they fear the government will cave in to Taliban demands.
Will Afghanistan Force Female Soccer Players From The Field For Peace With Taliban?



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Taliban forced Afghan women behind closed doors. And in the two decades since they lost power, women in that deeply conservative country have made enormous progress. Millions have gone to school. They work outside the home. They're parliamentarians, and they're playing soccer in a national league. It's flourishing, but as NPR's Diaa Hadid reports, it faces its biggest challenge yet.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: The crowd in the bleachers are excited.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in non-English language).

HADID: Men and boys clump in one bunch of seats, women and girls in another. They're watching the Herat Storm and the Kabul Fortress face off for the championship of the Afghan Women's Soccer League.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in non-English language).

HADID: This is conservative Afghanistan. The players sprint across the field in long-sleeved shirts and leggings under their shorts. Black hoodie-style hijabs cover their hair. Adiba Ganji plays for the Kabul Fortress. She's 16. And she told producer Khwaga Ghani that she began playing soccer when she was a kid at school.

ADIBA GANJI: (Through interpreter) My mother and brother were against it. They said it's not appropriate for a girl to play soccer in Afghanistan. But my father supported me. He was a footballer.

HADID: She was studying, too, aiming for medical college. But then...

GANJI: (Through interpreter) My father was injured in a suicide bombing. He went blind and lost his hearing, so I had to drop out of school.

HADID: Her family's fall into poverty caused her mother and brother to have a change of heart. Now they support her ambitions. She's the bright star that might be able to pull the family up or at least secure a future for herself.

GANJI: (Through interpreter) I…
Diaa Hadid
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