Shamila grew up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule where she was deprived of an education and confined to her home. While Shamila and her family knew there were severe consequences for families who taught their daughters how to read and write, their dedication and belief in the importance of education overcame their fears, and Shamila studied in secret.
Shortly after the Taliban were removed from power, Shamila began to play football (soccer), a sport that in the country is male-dominated and socially taboo for women. Shamila, found her passion and playing football gave her the freedom and courage to come out of her comfort zone and to fight for what she believed in.
Shamila found her voice and began to fight for women’s rights. With the help of the Afghan Football Federation, she worked to establish the first Afghan Women’s National Football Team in 2007. Shamila was proudly named Captain of the Women’s National Football Team and has said, “Soccer provided me with the opportunity for an education and connected me to other women around the world who are fighting for gender equality and the advancement of women's athletics”. Shamila’s goal has been to inspire and empower all women, she believes that football and other sports unite people from different backgrounds, and promote gender equality.
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Her love of football and where it came from
Coming from a family of 7 women (only 1 brother)
Growing up in Afghanistan
Having limited opportunities and not being able to go to school
Wanting to do something that had never been done
Fighting against gender norms
Doing the stuff she wasn't meant to do
Growing up during the fall of the Taliban
Starting to get an education and missing 5 years of school
Going back to school in 2001 and why it was so important to her
Helping to establish the first national football team
Going to the football federation
Dealing with the challenges and obstacles put in her way
Playing for the national team for 2 years
Wanting to go to school in America
Having to leave Afghanistan due to security concerns
Getting to visit her parents
Being away from home for 11 years
Working out religiously and why it is so important to her
Being captain of the National Team and what was involved
Women's sports not being taken seriously
What can we do to help and support
Watching the Women’s World Cup
Her role models
Her vision for the future and what she wants to see for women
Advice and tips for women who are in a challenging situation
Why complaining isn’t worth it
Website - www.shamilakohestani.com
Twitter - @Sham_Kohestani
Instagram - @shamila_kohestani
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