Rina Azizi is 16 years old, was born in The Netherlands, where she currently lives.
My parents left Afghanistan due to war and fled to Moscow, Russia in the late 80’s. They lived there for 10 years before they left for The Netherlands.
I play for DSV Doornspijk and coach for a local youth club in which my little brother is playing in. Besides football practice and playtime, I work out in the gym twice a week with my personal fitness coach.
Since my childhood, I wanted to play football. I played football in the streets with other children and told my parents I wanted to play for a club. My parents asked my “why football, there are so many other sports?” They even tried to get me into tennis.
I never gave up and eventually they signed me up with a local club.
My parents didn’t show much interest in me playing football.
One day my coach told them that I played very well and that they should come and watch me play. When they saw me playing, they started to follow my football career with pride.
I took part, for the second time in the Multi-Cultural tournament in Amsterdam. Before the tournament, the girls told me that there was a delegation of the Afghan National Women’s Football Team coming to this tournament to scout players.
I wasn’t nervous with their presence, as always I did my best and played as I always have been playing. At the end of the tournament, Coach Kelly and assistant coach Haley talked to us. That was really inspiring for me and I wasn’t even thinking about making it to the selection.
When they announced the 32 selected names, I was still in bed. I could hear my mom running up the stairs. She opened my bedroom door and said” you’re on the list, your name is on the list!”. I still had a sleepy head and had no idea what she was talking about. Again she said “Rina, your name is on the list, you are selected, you are one of the 32. Your uncle just called, he saw the list”. Then I realized what she was talking about and I was so happy, I was euphoric.
I’m really looking forward meeting all the girls, play and train together to achieve some good results with the team.
Part of my family still lives in Kabul. Because I’m born and raised in The Netherlands, it was hard to imagine how people live there. People told me stories about the life there but I had to see it for myself.
Three years ago, I visited Kabul and immediately I realized how fortunate I am to have all the freedom I have in The Netherlands. At home I can walk the streets in shorts and t-shirt and no one will make a point out of this. Life in Kabul is not so easy and walking the streets in shorts is a NO GO! I had an unsafe feeling walking the streets there, I was afraid.
My dream is to become a professional football player, to inspire young girls to play and to make my parents proud.
This morning, my mother told me to come downstairs. When I got into the living room, I saw a big picture on canvas hanging on the wall. It’s a picture of me in my football uniform, a surprise from my parents. Thanks dad and mom, thanks for supporting me in this.