By Akhtar M. Nikzad-Learning martial arts is not only good for maintaining sound health, but it is also an extraordinary tool for defense against rogues. It is very effective for all but it is more suitable for girls in a bid to protect themselves from harassment and annoyance of loafers on the alleyways.
Although, in the closed society, freely going to the bazaar and practice in a private club is not a very easy work for sportswomen because it needs more courage to ignore loafers.
Elnaz Noori is a young female athlete who experienced the irritation and annoyance of the loafer boys on the street several times but she ignored them.
Noori has practiced taekwondo for three years. Economic constraints and social limitations were major problems that she faced.
She said that getting out alone from home and exercising sport in a private club is still difficult for girls and they tolerate various types of harassments in the society due to unnoticeable number of girls. “When a girl wants to start practicing a sport and translate her wishes and goals into reality, first of all she shall struggle in the society to break the taboos.”
She termed the harassment and teasing by loafer boys a major challenge for girls who want to go outside their homes and work or practice sports. According to Noori there is no lack of the loafer boys as they can be find in every nook and corner.
“I am one of those many girls who is faced with such nuisance and annoyance of loafers. One day my sister and I were on the way to the taekwondo club. There was no one on the road. A young boy riding a bicycle approached us. He dismounted from his bicycle and intended to annoy us but we both put down the bags and fought the boy. He preferred to escape,” she recalled.
Noori said that learning martial arts in the current circumstance is not only important for health but it is also significant for self-defense during sensitive situation.
“I think there are a lot of challenges in front of Afghan sportswomen. They had to overcome these problems to before testing their mettle in international competitions,” she said regarding the problems that remain unresolved.
Noory began practice four years ago in a private club in Kabul. She became part of the national taekwondo squad which includes 200 sportswomen. In the national competitions she has clinched many victories and received gold, bronze and silver medals in these matches.
She also trains other female taekwondo players in a building. She is practicing hard hoping to find an opportunity to participate in an international competition to bring great glories for her nation. Poverty, insecurity, taboos are the main challenges in front of female athletes in the country. Noori spends Afs10,000 per month only on practice. Her family supports her financially.
She termed support of government for sportswomen quite worthless and said that if the relevant authorities encourage female athletes only then they will be able to upset rivals in international tournaments and clinch good positions. “We receive monthly Afs1000 as refreshment. No support for sportswomen can be found in the Olympic committee. Therefore, competing in international matches with empty pockets is quite difficult,” Noori said while projecting a disheartening reality.
Wahidullah Bayat, who trains members of the national taekwondo squad for matches, said that female athletes face a lot of social and economic problems but despite of all these constrains and limitations they continue their practice.
He termed insecurity, obsolete traditions and inattention of the government as major challenges in front of sportswomen and said that girls practices sports hoping to find way to the international competitions. “They spend their money even for taking part in international matches to bring glories for the nation and hoist the national flag.”
He added that the government in only pays Afs3,000 to athlete who bring gold medal on equality basis and Afs1500 to those athletes who win bronze medal. The problem of salary is unresolved.
Fatima Karimi is another young athlete who practices taekwondo with the other female members of the national team. She said that taekwondo is very important for self-defense against rogues.
Karimi thinks she needs more time polish her skills.
She said that in the current situation many girls are interested to learn taekwondo or other martial arts techniques in order to defend against aggressors, but their families are not ready to allow them because these sports are difficult.