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“In my first match, most of the men who passed by the field insulted me. Then, many times we had to cancel training due to threats of attacks. Even several of the companions with whom we played had to leave the team after getting married because their husbands forbade them to play the sport”, recalls Nilofar.
Despite the difficulties, the Afghan women’s basketball team began to compete internationally in 2017. In fact, it came close to qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. However, by 2021, the year of its realization, Afghanistan was facing a new turning point in its history: US troops left the country after 20 years of occupation. And in that movement, the Taliban reinforced their advance to return to government. Last August 15, the date of the capture of Kabul, the abandonment of the democratically elected president and the return to the darkest times.
The Taliban are the worst thing that has ever happened to me, my worst memory.
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The reporter, experienced in working in conflict zones, shared the text on social networks and aroused the interest of Spanish government officials who offered help to evacuate Bayat and her husband, Ramish Nakzai, captain of the men’s basketball team in wheelchair from Afghanistan and who also suffers from a war-related disability.
The roadmap in extremis established that Nilofar and Ramish should arrive at the airport looking for a Spanish representative. However, at first, none appeared.
“They send me to Germany, Antonio”Bayat managed to say desperately to Pampliega, while the Taliban opened fire.
After fearing the worst, enduring hunger for hours, sleeping on the ground and losing their belongings, the pair of captains from Afghanistan were located by the Spanish staff a day later than expected. From now on, with the aim of surviving, the beginning of another path. One impossible to be considered new because it is still anchored to the same reality.
Without much thought, the couple accepted the proposal. And in the last 10 months, both have experienced the relief of being alive. In fact, last season, which ended a couple of weeks ago, Bidaideak won the Copa del Rey. They could not play because they did not have the official license to do so, but they experienced the victory as their own. Still, amidst those reasons to celebrate, Nilofar has been far from feeling well.
“It has been 10 months that seem like a long time, but at the same time they are very little. I still can’t find myself in Spain because my country is still at war. The tragedy is not over in Afghanistan. The Taliban kill civilians every day and the world does nothing. The pressure is getting worse for women. It is very difficult to continue like this”, Bayat confesses to EL TIEMPO.
“I still have many problems with languages, because in addition to Spanish there is Basque and I don’t speak either of them. Nobody can understand how my life is full of pressure and how nervous I feel. Everything is new to me, and I still can’t understand how to behave with others and integrate into society “Add.
Nilofar says that the August shootings are still repeated in his dreams. The fact of being able to tell his story does not imply that he has forgotten what happened. Much less what is still happening. Especially when his family is still struggling to survive in Afghanistan.
“I saw with my own eyes how my country failed. I saw how the Taliban shot people. I saw how my little cousin was killed a week before Kabul was taken. Everything I saw has changed my life, and I still have a hard time accepting it. In Afghanistan, people are fighting to stay safe. The world forgot my country. My family and friends are in a terrible situation. Right now they don’t have food, there are no hospitals, the women can’t do anything. The name of the only place where they can be is ‘home’, but in reality it is a prison”, says Bayat from Bilbao.
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As in Afghanistan, in Colombia women are great victims of violence.
Nilofar never tires of repeating that “being a woman in Afghanistan and living with a disability is almost a double curse”. Even so, he says, he does not plan to give up on his dream, something he knows very well because he has never had it: “To see an Afghanistan in peace”.