Maija Liuhto


Fall Of Taliban Finally Gave Kids A Chance In This Sport

“(Judo) has given me self-confidence. I can feel something good is happening inside me”

In a heavily guarded sports complex in Kabul, Afghanistan, loud thumps echo from the hall as young girls grab their partners by the arms and hurl them onto a thin mat covering the carpeted concrete floor. At times, some of the girls pause to adjust their headscarves, partially covering their all-white judo uniforms, while others have not covered their heads at all. This, despite the fact that their trainer is a man.

Afghanistan, a country that is often in the headlines for its dismal record with women’s rights, is perhaps the last place on earth where one would expect to find enthusiastic girls practicing a combat sport and dreaming of making it to the Olympics one day. But in Kabul, increasing numbers of girls have been flocking to judo classes.

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