Lausanne, Switzerland, December 2, 2016 – The United Nations hosted a volleyball tournament for Afghan female players on Thursday in Kabul as part of its campaign against gender violence in the country.
France 24 reported that the tournament marked a chance for women athletes to compete in the national spotlight in the deeply conservative Muslim country, allowing Afghan female players to call for a change in mindset.
One of the participants, Muzhgan Sadat, recollects how she changed her father’s mentality towards women playing volleyball. Her story reflects common issues of Afghan women in sport.
“Initially, my father was against my playing volleyball, he threw away my jerseys,” Sadat said. “I begged my father to reconsider and when he finally saw me play, he changed his mentality.”
Sadat gave a powerful message about the abilities of women, not just in sport, but also in the community.
“I urge every single person, please change your mind and don’t look down on women,” she said. “Please don’t impose your restrictions and oppressions on them. A woman has the same abilities as a man does. Chase your dreams, never give up, fight against restrictions and show your parents that women can be as good as men.”
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Afghanistan is optimistic about women in Afghanistan.
“Ten years ago, we had no girls’ volleyball team in the country, but now they have come such a long way forward,” UNDP gender issues specialist Shugla Hellali said.
Volleyball has long been a popular sport in Afghanistan, but women’s volleyball is a huge development that shows great impact in changing the landscape of the country’s sporting community.