In the basement of once notorious Ghazi National Olympic Stadium of Afghanistan is where the Afghan national team of female boxers train tirelessly hard for the Olympics 2012 in London.
Once known as the stadium of death the venue was used for holding public executions and stoning under the brutal Taliban rule, 1996 to 2001. Under the Taliban women were completely forbidden from participating in any sports, not even as spectators.
Refurbished by the US government, Ghazi Olympic Stadium reopened in recent years and thousands of young athletes train here everyday, including Afghanistan’s national female boxers team. Beaming with hope, this group of 25 girls with a mission, meet in this darkened training club in the basement with cracked mirrors, three times a week and run hard practices to prepare for the upcoming 2012 Olympics. The team has been given a chance to participate in Olympic games in London. They really have their work cut out for them.
Shabnam, a 19-year-old boxer won gold medal in an international competition in October 2011 in Tajikistan. Her younger sister also won silver.
In a country where still a very insignificant number of women are allowed by their families to participate in sports and despite threats of kidnapping and violence, Shabnam and her other fellow boxers continue to fight thier way to the Olympics 2012 in London. “We work for the future, because the past is lost”, says Mohammad Shabir Sharifi coach of the national female boxers team in an interview.
These boxers are the beacons of hope for Afghanistan and their victory means hope and encouragment to millions of other Afghan women. I admire their bravery and the noble love and support these young women receive from their families and their coach in the pursuit of their Olympic dreams. Their spirits are high and with practice and strong determination they will show the world that they too can be the contenders. The team that represents Afghanistan in international competitions has little support from the government ($1 a day per athlete).
Here is a petition to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai to give the Afghan women’s boxing team more protection and support that they truly deserve. Petition to Hamid Karzai