Training in an arena where the Taliban used to execute women is now a setting for a teen girl’s Olympic dream.
A wild card from the Olympic committee gave 17-year-old Sadaf Rahimi a chance to compete. She could be Afghanistan’s first woman boxer to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“The first time I hit someone it was in my village, I was 11. It was actually my cousin,” she told CNN during a break
from training. “Afterwards he said I hit him so hard that I should become a boxer!”
The lack of proper equipment let alone a proper boxing ring does not stop Rahimi, her sister, and her teammates from training. They make use of what they have including mismatched uniforms and training inside a dirty gym.
The Afghan amateur Women’s Boxing Association was established to promote women in sports.
Although this is a step up for women’s rights in Afghanistan, there are still the conservatives who threaten opportunities and the girls’ safety.
Rahimi’s father worries about threats and warnings that his daughters might get because they are boxing. There is concern that this kind of conservatism might increase when NATO leaves Afghanistan.
“For one month I was not allowed to come to the gym for practice because of my safety”, she said.
Rahimi’s parents are very supportive of her and her sister’s sports activities, but other family members are not.
“My aunt used to say girls should stay at home and do housework, they shouldn’t be going out and playing sports. She would say my actions are not in line with Islam.”
For now, Rahimi is pleased of what she has accomplished. Criticism from conservatives will not stop her from doing what she loves.