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Khalida Popalzai

Football Player/Administrator, Afghanistan

Former Captain of the Afghanistan Women’s National Team and Founder and Director of Girl Power, Khalida has been using football to empower the women of Afghanistan. Khalida is now the program director of the Afghanistan Women’s National team and is using sports to empower refugees, migrants, and women of minorities in the EU through her organization, Girl Power. In late 2018, through the bravery and leadership of Khalida, the world was made aware of alleged abuses taking place within the Afghanistan Football Federation. She continues to campaign for the alleged perpetrators to be brought to justice.

 

What is your favourite sport? Football and swimming
What drives you? Passion and love for empowering my own gender
What was your defining moment to get to where you are now? The moment when a group of men stood in front of me and tried to stop me from playing football – they took the ball from me and destroyed it.  They told me women are made for the kitchen.  That was the moment my life and my mission in life changed.  I stood up for my rights and the rights of other women in my country and around the world.
What is your first sporting memory? I have the best memory from football.  After the long-time fight to get the right to play, finally, we earned that and wore the national team badge.  It was the most memorable day for me when I stood on the pitch with the national team badge on my chest and the national anthem was played.  I was feeling strong and powerful as a woman.
Who is your inspirational woman in sport? Kelly Lindsey – she is a former US Women’s National Team player.  She is an amazing role model and a great inspirational leader who is passionate about using the power of football to empower women.
Why is sport important? Because it gives confidence, self-esteem, especially for women from war-torn countries or women from a male-dominated culture who have low self-confidence because of the way that they treat women as a second class citizen.  It’s also very important to do sport in order to have a healthy lifestyle.