My Name is Madina Azizi. I’m 21 years old and I live in Kabul Afghanistan.
I started playing football, when I was in primary school in Iran. I have lived many years as a refugee in Iran, with my family.
I started playing football in school for fun and as an after school activity. But when I watched the football match between Afghanistan VS Iran. a friendly game against Iran after the Taliban regime, everything changed for me.
I was very disappointed and sad after that game. That game changed my thoughts and aim of playing football for fun to playing to have a reason for playing. After that I played with a mission, and a played for change.
The game between Afghanistan Men’s National Football Team played and the Iran National football team was a very disappointing game. Afghanistan played very bad and Iran could score more than 20 goals. Even though I was happy and proud to see our national team play, the happiness didn't last long.
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.
The Afghanistan National Football team was a joke in Iran and the team playing football became the joke of the year in Iran. It wasn't a good experience for me, as an Afghan refugee living in Iran. People started teasing as and making jokes. It was really annoying. I cried many days and one day I said to myself ,that one day I would play on my National team and bring pride home to my country. I would show them what is real football and being a real football player. Show them how to love and respect the nation and the country.
When we returned to Afghanistan, our country, I started playing football at school. I was 17 years old back then and our school sent us to one of the international football events in India, a football tournament.
Subroto cup is an International football tournament held in India. I played football there but we didn't win. It was a great start to my journey. One of the coaches from the National team was there and saw me playing. It was here I got selected for the National team.
I was in high school back then. When I played with the women's national 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.