Nilofar Yaqoubi is 24 years old. She was born in Masar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan and is currently living in Delft, The Netherlands.
I studied fashion, styling and design in Den Haag. My interest has always been in fashion so I started to make it a hobby of mine. This hobby kind of got out of hand and now I have my own fashion blog with 87K followers. I visit a lot of fashion shows, do some styling and give advice. My goal, what I’m working up to, is that one day I can have my own fashion line. To read my blog, click here.
At the age of five, my mother, brother, sister and myself left Afghanistan through Pakistan to get to The Netherlands.
For my mother, alone with three children, it was a very hard journey. When we got to The Netherlands, we were reunited with my grandparents. My grandparents left a few years before we did and later we were also reunited with my father who joined us in The Netherlands.
We didn’t know a lot of people so my parents decided to sign us up for gymnastic classes. That way we could socially develop and learn what self-discipline meant. For our parents it was important that their children be strong and firm in life. Gymnastics is a sport for individuals, not a team sport, you have to work hard and your results are your own responsibility. It is you that has to work hard; there are no team players behind which you can hide when you’re having an off-day.
I was good in what I did, participated in a lot for competitions and won a lot of trophies. Winning all the time was getting boring, I needed a new challenge so I decided to start to play football. Pretty soon I found out that I really liked this game and when I had to choose between gymnastics and football, I chose football, even though a lot of people consider this being a sports for boys.
I play at VV SEP Delft, we train twice a week and play a game during the weekend. Besides football practice, I try to work out every day to keep in shape and improve my physical condition.
Bahara and I were looking for players using social media so we could participate at the tournament in Amsterdam. This way we started to get to know other Afghan girls and their love for football. In 2014 we were invited to participate in the SAFF in Pakistan. Because the planned training camp before SAFF was canceled, we (Wida, Sahar and I) decided to meet up in Dubai and get to know each other. We played football at the beach and developed an understanding of trust amongst us. During the SAFF, we stayed for 12 days at a luxury sports facility. All participating teams were staying there and that made it difficult to get enough field time for training.
After SAFF, there were some negative comments about some of the pictures taken during the tournament. We were playing in shorts pants and short sleeves, a lot of Afghan people still have a problem that girls do this. I’m so thankful that my family is so supportive in what I do, in me playing football. They are so proud I made it to the selection of the Afghan Women’s National Team.
I believe that it’s very important to be well prepared before a game. Without experience playing together, without a chance to become a solid team, it will reduce your chances to book good results. It’s also very important that each individual in a team has the right motivation, is taking this serious and has sufficient self-discipline to get in top shape for the team.
I’m very motivated and think it’s wonderful that our national team is getting a new chance. With a new staff and new professional trainers on board, I feel we can get far. I feel we could make it to the next SAFF finals.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play in California. I’m still recovering from surgery on my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) but already working hard to get back on that field.
Although I won’t be able to play, I will be there in California to be with my team to support them, to get to know everybody and to be part of it.
For me winning is not about winning a game. To have a strong team, a team that works together, good team spirit and seeing your team grow and develop, …… that, for me means WINNING!