I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Since I was little I have wanted to be a gymnast, a rock climber, a figure skater, a surfer, and a soccer player. I can’t do any of those in Afghanistan, but I still try.
I have always wanted to be a gymnast. I thought I could be the first female gymnast from Afghanistan until I learned from my teacher that we have no facilities to train for the Olympics in Afghanistan. But, I’ve told myself that I can do it if I practice enough so every morning, afternoon and evening, I try to practice hard. Out in my school garden I do handstands and a pose called “frog tuck.” I have hurt myself so many times that now sometimes when I do the more dangerous tricks one of my friends practices with me.
Most people tell me not even to try because girls can’t perform the same as male gymnasts. When Afghan women tell me that gymnastics isn’t good for you, I ignore them. I have always followed my own way. I heard that there are gymnastic courses in Barchi, but it is far away from the public school that I attend. But someday after I finish school, I know I will go to Barchi to study. Even my family supports me in this.
Rock climbing is another one those things I wish I could do but there is no real opportunity for me to try rock climbing. Sometimes I doubt myself, but I know I could do all of these things—rock climbing, figure skating, surfing, and soccer.
There are many other things I want to do, such as becoming a professor of biology and English, or working as a writer and poet. Someday, I will open schools in Kandahar and Kabul, and we will teach English, biology, and sports like gymnastics for girls!
By Shahira, age 13
Photo by Phil Borges.
This is wonderful, Shahira! You have such fierce goals, all of which are worthy to keep fighting for! I’m sure that many other Afghan women share these dreams too. Your words and ambition will go a long way in inspiring others. Thank you for all of the hard work you have done here. It’s such an honor to work with you!
Dear Shahira: I am so moved by your hope, your vision, and your energy! I would never bet against you! Please keep dreaming, practicing, and making your way. You are an inspiration. Stacy
Your writing expresses great passion for sports. I hope someday you get to try all of them! You have made me realize the importance of sports for women have been in my life and you make me want to do everything I can to help other women have these rights also.
Keep working to reach your dreams.
I am glad that your family supports your interest in athletics and education. It is important for girls and women to understand and use their bodies. I hope you can find opportunities for yourself to do sports and then share these opportunities with other girls when you get older. If you can make progress in this area, you will have made a very important contribution to Afghan society and helped to improve the lives of girls and women. Sports are fun! Why should men have all the fun?
Keep following your own way! Your essay is inspiring!!
Keep your dreams alive, Shahira and they will come true!
Sports are great for girls. They are fun and keep you healthy ad strong. Even if we can’t compete with boys, so what? Our value does not come from being compared to boys. Be strong and do not give up.