Shazia, from Northern Afghanistan, only took
up the sport of table tennis a couple of years ago, yet has excelled so much at the game
that she is now a member of the Afghanistan national team.
“I would like to serve my people through this sport in the future, all the achievements
and medals that we bring from other countries to Afghanistan; it’s an honor to the country.”
With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching Afghanistan will compete in a number of sports, but unfortunately
Table Tennis will not be one of them, as it is still a relatively new sport and practiced
in only a handful of places. Balkh province seems to be leading the way
for Table Tennis and was the first province to introduce a women’s team, yet increased
interest without the increase in facilities could be seen to have a detrimental effect.
“The youth are becoming more and more interested in sport, but we can not fulfill the demand
of the youth therefore it results in under development of the youth in the province.”
Shazia uses the sport and her position as top ranked player to encourage other women
around Afghanistan into sport. “My message to other females is to get involved
with sport, which is better than staying at home and doing nothing. I am aware that most
of our countries females do not even go to school, therefore they should come and join
in with sport.” Shazias greatest encouragement comes from
the support of her family and their more liberal way of viewing women in Afghanistan, so much
so that they will provide finance, and have also allowed Shazia to travel to places like
Iran to compete in competitions. “Families, they shouldn’t think whether
its male or female, a male has rights at home as does a female, therefore they should let
their children study and participate in sports and have successes and achievements.”
Sport for men in Afghanistan has been well supported; the likes of the national cricket
team and Tae Kwon Do team have been very successful internationally. Domestically, even years
after the fall of the Taliban, women in sport still lags far behind.
“My view is if the females try, they can be better than the males, but they themselves
are staying away, not to be defamed in the community. The problem in our community is
that most of the people criticize the females, so I assure them that there are no issues
like that anymore, and to partake in sport.” William Bonnett, for the NATOChannel in Afghanistan.