Afghan refugee who became PSG star, Nadia Nadim retraces her extraordinary journey

Afghan refugee who became PSG star, Nadia Nadim retraces her extraordinary journey
Afghan refugee who became PSG star, Nadia Nadim retraces her extraordinary journey

In her autobiography, the Parisian striker tells her extraordinary story, hoping to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.

© Provided by franceinfo

A life like no other. In his book My story, From Afghan refugee to football superstar (Editions Marabout), to be released on June 2, footballer Nadia Nadim traces her childhood in Afghanistan, the fall of the local government to the Taliban, the assassination of her father and her flight to Europe.

Refugee in a reception center in Denmark with her mother and her four sisters, she was quickly noticed for her football skills. After a career start in Denmark, Nadia Nadim flies to the United States and joins Portland, then Manchester City, before settling down in Paris, in 2019. If she has become a symbol in Denmark, especially after having carried her team to the final of Euro 2017, she has also become a model of success well in – beyond its borders. Interview.

Franceinfo: sport: On Wednesday June 2, you publish a very personal book on your life, your childhood in Afghanistan and your football career. Why did you decide to tell your story?

Nadia Nadim :

I often say that there were two reasons. The first was to give people hope, because everyone has a difficult time in life, but you should never give up hope. Everyone has their story and their trials to overcome. But you should never lose sight of your dreams. Even when everything seems dark and hopeless, we must continue to seek the light. I also wanted to show people through this book what it is possible to do if we are given a new chance in life.

You retrace your childhood in Afghanistan, the assassination of your father by the Taliban, or your arrival in Denmark in a refugee center. This dive into your past must have been difficult for you … At the time, it was a little hard to write. I felt a lot of emotions. I was even a little surprised myself, because I remembered many details from that time. Then, a posteriori, the writing did me good. It was like therapy.

In your book, you recount the daily life of your family under the Taliban regime, an authoritarian regime that forced you to flee your country. It was your mother who saved your life. Yes, my mother did everything to protect us from the difficult things we might be faced with. She is a very strong and very courageous woman.

“When we arrived in Denmark, we were all happy because we were alive and together. And we came to a country without war. That was the main thing.”

Nadia Nadim

to franceinfo: sport

But it is true that this period was not easy for her, especially for raising five young girls. My mother was not yet 35 when my father was killed, it was a very hard episode for her, but she always showed courage and she gave everything to change our life, and that I do. will never forget. Today, we do everything to thank her every day.

You explain in your book that the “balloon games facilitated communication through languages”. Has football helped you a lot to integrate into Danish society? Yes, totally. Football has made me fit in more easily because on the pitch it doesn’t matter what language you speak or what religion you believe in. This is not what is important. Football has allowed me to make friends even before I can speak Danish. This is why we must use sport more as a vector of integration, in my opinion. In addition, football has been a real therapy. It gave me a lot of joy and gave me confidence. Football has given me new life.

When you arrived in Denmark at 12, did you already think about a career in football?Not at all. At that time, I had never seen women play football before. It wasn’t until 2002, two years after I arrived in Denmark, that I first saw the Danish Women’s National Team play on television. Becoming professional, I didn’t even think about it. I played soccer because it made me feel good. A little later, I realized that there might be a chance to turn pro.

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When you were still a child in Afghanistan, girls were not allowed to play sports, especially football. Today, has women’s football developed in Afghanistan?Yes, there has been an Afghan national women’s team for about ten years. My sister Diana is also the babysitter. It remains hard, because there is always this barrier between religion, tradition and culture. And men still have a lot of power. But I know that the women’s team is fighting to exist, and I hope that it will consolidate further over the years. I also hope to be able to return to Afghanistan one day to talk to people, give them hope and encourage them to practice.

From the moment you turned professional, you fought for women’s football in Denmark, but also elsewhere in Europe, to develop and gain recognition.

100% ! It was very important to me. I have been fighting for ten years to improve the condition of women’s football in Denmark, to have the same opportunities as men because we play the same sport and we make the same sacrifices. But in the end, we don’t win the same thing.

However, have you felt a change in the place occupied by women’s football in society between your beginnings and today?

Yes, the lines have moved, a lot of effort has been made. But, we know that it will take a long time. I often say that we are on the right track, but we are not yet at the end of the road.

You have never hidden your commitments. For you, is it important to be a committed sportswoman?Yes, it is fundamental in my opinion, because athletes are very much listened to and followed. Moreover, in recent years, I have found that more and more athletes are taking a stand on subjects that are close to their hearts. And I hope it will continue in this direction.

In your story, you write: “I want to be rich. It’s not about imagining that money in itself can make me happy, but about the freedom and control of my life that money brings. I know that because I had the experience of having nothing “. So football has allowed you to emancipate yourself?

Yes, 100%. For me, since my arrival in Denmark, having money has been synonymous with freedom, whether it is the freedom to do what you want or to say what you think. Because at the beginning, in Denmark, we were very poor, and it was very hard. It’s a feeling I never want to feel again.

In parallel with your sports career, you studied medicine with the aim of becoming a surgeon. Why was it important for you to pursue these two careers?

I still have a semester to complete. I have put it on hiatus for now because I want to stay 100% focused on football. And it was not possible to do this semester in France. I am very happy to have been able to do both at the same time because it was really important for me to be able to tell myself that I could help others through my job. And after my sports career, I would like to work with Doctors Without Borders.

So your post-career has already been mapped out?

Yes, I’ve already planned everything.

In the last pages of your book, you write: “Something tells me that one day it is behind the camera that I can continue to tell you my story”. So is a documentary project in progress?Yes indeed. Anissa Bonnefont, who is a young director, has been following me for a year and a half in my daily life, at the club, in Denmark. The release of this documentary is scheduled for the end of the year.

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