Date : 01 Aug 2018
Kabul, Afghanistan, August 1, 2018: It was 24 years ago when Afghanistan was captured by the Taliban, when there was no safety and place for sports in the country - and when a family brought a daughter into the world.
It was also a time when the nation’s culture was very much against daughters. This family, however, was happy for the new blessing - and for a baby girl.
Just after her birth, the Asghari family was forced to flee to Iran. Away from their homeland and beloved Afghanistan, the family didn’t believe that they would ever be able to return to their house in Kabul. They named the child Samira and promised to inspire her to learn and study and to play sports wherever they could.
Her father had practised martial arts and kung fu for years, while her uncle and twin brothers used to do gymnastics. Samira followed her father’s footsteps into kung fu before finding her own way in basketball. The family lived together as a middle-class refugee family, but Samira always had the dream and the ambition to bring pride to her nation and to her family.
“As we were refugees we weren’t very rich but, with all passion and enthusiasm, my family and I tried to do our best,” Samira said.
Doing their very best led to this special girl becoming active in promoting the right for women to play sport in her own war-torn country - and her pioneering efforts and courage have led to her being nominated as an IOC member at the IOC Session in Argentina this October.
Samira Asghari is a passionate girl with a warm and welcoming heart. When she speaks to you she looks very calm and confident, with an intelligent and innocent face. She played basketball for the Afghanistan national team and has taken on a series of administrative roles with the Afghanistan NOC.
According to Samira, from the very beginning when she learned about sport and national pride from her family she was very much convinced to become an icon and represent the nation.
She comes from one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous provinces - Maidan Wardak in the Jalrez district, where insurgents have captured many districts that continue to be under their control even today.
Samira cannot go to visit her relatives and the people she loves, nor can she reach out to so many of those girls who are still not aware about education and sports.
“My parents came to the Iran when I was barely a few months old. But while I did not have any memories of Afghanistan, my parents and grandparents have always shared their wonderfully vivid memories and it is because of this that I love my country and people,” she told AIPS Media.
Samira told AIPS Media that from the moment she started her career as an athlete her family fully supported her. She is one of the few Afghan girls who have their family’s support to do sports.
“When I started to be an athlete there were so many cultural challenges, people from my province were talking and they wanted to prevent me from doing sport, but my family supported me and told me to do my job,” Samira said
According to Samira, with her family’s support and her confidence and skill, she became a member of the Afghanistan national basketball team, first at a junior level and then for the senior women’s team, and has since then felt a responsibility for sport in the nation.
“We often didn’t have enough resources, but thanks to the NOC and Afghanistan Basketball National Federation we were allowed to take part in a few tournaments and we did our best to bring pride to the nation,” she smiled.
A former president of Afghanistan NOC, Gen. Zahir Aghbar, was one of those who was confident in Samira’s talent on and off the court, which is why he took her to work at the Afghanistan NOC, where she started to work as a women’s sport representative and then as an International Relations board member.
According to Samira, with Aghbar’s faith in her and her hard work, very soon she became known within national and international sport, after which she shifted to start a new mission as a member of the Culture Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia.
“As my dream was nearing, my aim was to serve my people and those who need support. I worked day and night and, after everything, in 2014 I become member of the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission,” she said.
At the same time she was working with the Afghanistan NOC as a Financial Director for one year and then as Deputy Secretary General until 2017. With her membership of the Athletes’ Entourage Commission, she is very happy and hopeful to become an IOC member and represent Afghanistan and female youth in the IOC.
“I am very excited. Women everywhere and especially women in those countries who are suffering from war, insecurity, cultural and many other problems need support and we should join hands with them.”
Samira expressed her thanks to the IOC for its crucial initiative of bringing in women and representing women, talking and working for women and for those who need the IOC support.
“It will be a source of great pride for me, for my nation and especially for all women around the world to raise their voice in IOC,” she said.
Samira thinks the time is right time for her to be a candidate for this position in the IOC, to work directly together with her NOC and the IOC in a bid to focus on young athletes in Afghanistan and around the world who are suffering from the consequences of poverty and war.
“Becoming an IOC member would mean bringing positive change, and giving hope, for better opportunities and conditions for practising sport in the world,” Samira said.
Article: Sayer Zaland, President, Afghanistan Sports Journalist Federation
(AIPS – International Sports Press Association)
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