Afghanistan’s women’s basketball team
Guardian: New generation of young Afghan women train and organize in the schools
VOICEOVER: In Kabul’s Olympic stadium, a group of young women gather to play basketball. But the Afghan national team confronts the same security problems as everybody else in this country.
WALID: President Karzai has lots of bodyguards who can save him, but we do not have anyone, in fact. As you can see, the security problem in Afghanistan is really hard for us to come. But beside that, we come to show the world that we are trying our best to make our country.
VOICEOVER: ["MOY-han"] Walid, age 19, is one of the team’s most dedicated members. A keen sportswoman, she says she wants to go into politics or economics when she graduates from university. Today, however, she’s training with the team in a city shaken by the attempted assassination of President Hamid Karzai by the Taliban a few days before. The girls are conscious that for women, even playing sport is a political act in Afghanistan.
BASKETBALL PLAYER: We want to show our power to all terrorist people that want to damage our country, and [that] don’t want to improve our country, and [that] don’t want Afghan women improve.
VOICEOVER: Their coach recalls the civil war and its aftermath, when girls could not play games like basketball.
ABDUL SABOOR AZIZII, BASKETBALL COACH (TO THE TEAM) (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Basketball is all about running. Being out of breath doesn’t mean you are tired. You have to keep going.
AZIZII (INTERVIEWED): These girls that are playing basketball now are a generation born out of war. They were born during the war. War has become a central part of our lives. The team has been an opportunity for some to see the outside world.
BASKETBALL PLAYER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Since I have started playing basketball as a national team member, we have learned many things. We were given the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, to practice basketball. Since I was very small, since I was a child, I watched American basketball on TV. This inspired me to play basketball and to join a team.
VOICEOVER: For a number of the girls, basketball is not their only interest. Many of them, like ["my-HAN"], are also members of the Afghan Women’s Network, involved in youth activities in Kabul schools to raise awareness about the crucial issues facing them.
WALID: We were working about making the new groups in the schools, because they are going to graduate from the high schools. So we are going to make new groups. And also maybe some others who can speak English, they can also join in with their ideas.
WOMAN: Our foreign friends, they have an opinion that Afghan girls and other ideas, they think that Afghan girls, they can’t go out, they can’t study. But currently that’s not correct, because now in Afghanistan, girls, women can go out and do their works.
VOICEOVER: But ["moy-HAN"] is not convinced that women are any closer to real equality.
WALID: As I see it, there are just a few chairs in Parliament for the women, that the women cannot make any decisions by themselves. For example, if there is something that women want to do but that the men doesn’t want to do that, so the women can never take any decisions about that, because there are just a few chairs for women, and there are lots of men who are working in the Parliament. So I think we certainly cannot say that we have the justice in Afghanistan too.
VOICEOVER: Training is over, and the girls have changed to travel home. Suddenly they seem like what they are: not activists or hard at practice, but a group of young women enjoying their time together in a country where such scenes seem like a rarity.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.