Nadia Nadim, the daughter of an executed Afghan general who spent years playing football in the fields beside her refugee camp before becoming a Denmark international said, “I don’t really think about the past and what happened.”
“I am fortunate to be in a situation where I can play football and love what I do,” says Nadim who’s now 31-year-old and who recently completed a move from Manchester City to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Nadia‘s story is quite a remarkable one. The football star was only 10 when her father was killed by the Taliban, her family fleeing the war-torn nation and finding a new home in Denmark.
The journey from her home in Herat was a long one, via Pakistan and then on to Italy with the aid of human traffickers in a bid to get to Britain where she had family. Instead they found refuge in Denmark.
Nadim recalls her story while talking to AFP reporters:
“We came to Denmark in 2000 when I was 10 or 11 years old, and we used to be in this camp, and just beside this camp there was these amazing football fields. Every day after school me and other refugee kids used to go and watch these other guys train. One day I asked if I could join in, and the coach was like ‘yeah, of course’.
“I feel happy and I feel grateful every day. I am fortunate to be in a situation where I can play football, be the player I want to be and meet new people all the time.
“There were a lot of kids from different areas … Arabs, Iraqi, Bosnian, Somalian, nobody could speak the language, and no-one spoke English, so the only way we communicated was with the game,” she recalled of her early days in Denmark.
“Everyone was included, nobody would say ‘No’ because you are different … that is what I still love about the game, everyone can be a part of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Christian or Muslim, it’s a game.”
“In Afghanistan girls are not supposed to do sports, not supposed to wear shorts,” she says. But you can use sports to change points of view… I have seen this myself. When I was younger my Mum would be like don’t play football with the boys because the women, my friends, think that there is something else going on.
“I used to hide myself on the street – we used to play street football — because my Mum was like, if they see you they are going to start talking. That was so stupid.”