After harassment and death threats, Khalida Popal was forced to flee her home country of Afghanistan in 2011. She left much behind — her home and family, but one thing she refuse to give up was her love for soccer.
Four years earlier, Ms. Popal was part of Afghanistan’s first national women’s soccer team, and was very much in the public eye. “I was organizing soccer activities for women and using soccer as a tool to stand for our rights, and I appeared on media to raise awareness about women’s equality,” says the athlete.
But soon a cultural backlash about women playing soccer developed, and she was forced to flee, finding asylum in Denmark where she lives today. Recently, Ms. Popal joined forces with a local athletic company named Hummel on a new line of uniforms with built in hijabs. The new uniforms allow the female athletes to be more agile on the field and most importantly, observe their faith.
“The uniform launched on International Women’s Day for women’s empowerment,” reports Ms. Popal. “And the uniform means a lot for the national team of Afghanistan – especially for the women – because they fought to wear it and it says, ‘I am a woman and I’m able to play under the flag of my country.’ ”