My Name is Madina Azizi, I’m 21 years old, and I live in Kabul Afghanistan.
I have started playing football from childhood, when I was in one of primary schools in Iran. I lived many years with my family as refugee in Iran.
I played football at school for having fun, and as after school activities, until I watched the football match of Afghanistan VS Iran. Afghanistan played friendly game against Iran after Taliban regime.
I was very disappointed and very sad, I carried a lot after that game, and actually that game changed my thoughts and aim as playing football for fun to playing to a reason, playing for a mission, playing football for change.
The game that the Afghanistan Men’s National Football Team played against Iran National football team was very disappointed game, Afghanistan played very bad and Iran could score more than 20 goals. I was very happy to see our national team and cheer for them and I felt very happy and proud, but the happiness didn't last longer.
We found out that it was not a real national team; the team was selected based on relationship of the people who were governing body of sports in Afghanistan, on that time.
The jokes about Afghanistan National Football team was all around Iran, and the team and its football, became joke of the year in Iran. It wasn't a good experience for us as an Afghan refugee living in Iran. People started teasing as and making jokes on us, it was really annoying. I carried many days and there was a time that I said to myself one day I will play in my National team and bring pride home and I will show them what is a real football and real football player, and what is love for the nation and the country.
When we returned Afghanistan our own country; Afghanistan, I started playing football at school, I was 17 years old back than, our school sent us to one of the international football events in India, it was a football tournament.
Subroto cup is an International football tournament held in India, I played football there, we didn't win, but it was a great start of my journey, one of the coaches from National team was there and saw me playing, he selected me in National team.
I was at high school back than, when the national women’s football team was playing was really dreaming to play one day on our women’s National football team.
One day; I got a call from someone from Afghanistan football federation, that they invited me for the national team’s tryout. I didn't believe it, I was totally surprised I was telling to myself “ Madina wake up, this is not true”.
I went to tryouts and I passed and I was selected for the national team. It was like a dream come true.
I remember the day that the coach give me the national team uniform, I was so happy I was crying, while I was smiling, I couldn’t believe, that it can be true.
I wear the uniform I slept the entire night with my first national team’s uniform, I didn't wanted to take it off.
I was feeling different and especial; I was feeling proud and happy, when I had that uniform on.
I felt the freedom and success, when I got the opportunity to play for my country, and wear the national team uniform and play under the flag of my country, my own country Afghanistan.
Since, I started playing football in National team, my life has changed a lot. Football gave me different meaning of life. I see the world different, the meaning of life different, from what I used to see and feel before playing.
I feel I am at this planet to change something; I have a task in this planet to help and support and use all the opportunities, which I have to help other people and especially women from my own gender.
Football gave me the self-confidence, and power to take decisions in my life for my self.
Being women in Afghanistan is a challenge and playing football or doing any sport activities are even a bigger challenge, but I am not a person to give up.
I believe strong people and successful people work hard to achieve their dreams and they don't give up, I want to be one of those people.
As a women and as football player, I face difficulties and challenges, in our male dominated society, since Afghanistan been a war turn country for many decades, it has effected the country a lot, and it has changed the real culture of Afghanistan, that use to be peaceful country, with a lot of respect to women.
Its not even men who are against women’s development, but its also women who are against women. I think the violence of women against women are higher then men against women.
I was studying at school and then in colleague, my teachers knew that I was playing football, since I wearing that national uniform I changed my wearing style from girly outfit to sporty outfits, so my teachers were really against me, and the were insulting me many times.
My teachers were insulting me and seeing me as prostitute, it was/is really difficult for me to tell them that I love sports and I love my outfits and my wearing style, it’s because of the love, the love for football.
Many times my teachers kicked me out of class, it was not only male teacher, but also female.
I was hiding myself for hours and crying for the pressure and stress and insult that they gave me, and it was 100% discrimination.
I was the one giving huge to myself and I was the only one telling to myself” listen girl your strong, you can make it, these people are jealous, they cant do what I can, that is why they are against it. Don’t give up, clean your tears come out of the dark room, go to light give a smile to the world and tell them your dreams are bigger then their understanding and knowledge, they have to come up to understand you, because your not going down to explain them. Show them you can and you’re strong”.
I am very happy from the changes, which has been made, in national team, I am very happy that we got the women coaches and foreign coaches, the people that can understand our problem and understand our dreams and the people who are welling to help us to achieve our dreams, and bring pride to our national as a women.
We are optimistic about our future, and believe in our strengths and power as women, we will change the situation, which is right now for women in our country.
I want to be a role model for the new generations, as the other women is our role model.
I am proud school sports teacher, when my students come to me and tell me “ teacher I want to play for our national team like you do. I want to play football like you do and I want to be like you.” That is what makes me to work hard and be a good role model, because I believe in power of sports and I believe, if football changed my life and give me the strength; it will change the other women lives too.
One day we will play in women’s world cup, and I am sure there will be many people men and women will cheer for us, and there will be many people who will carry Afghan flag and wave for us.