After raising thousands for women in Afghanistan last summer, the Racing Louisville forward is again looking to help those in need
For the last two weeks, the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag has been more prominent than ever in all walks of life, including in sport.
The unity shown by athletes and fans in sending messages of support to the nation after Russia’s invasion has been huge, with Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, captain of the men’s national team, having been moved to tears by the affection being shown.
For Nadia Nadim, a refugee herself who fled Afghanistan as a child after her father was executed by the Taliban regime, it’s been “amazing” to see people come together to spread these messages, but the reasons why they are needed continue to sadden her.
“I understand how the people feel,” Nadim told GOAL. “No one really wants to leave their families, homes, identity, everything behind.
“I can see by the pictures how the kids are and everyones just in distress. It breaks my heart. I hate wars. For me, it doesnt make any sense. Theres a lot of ways you can solve your problems and by killing innocent people, I dont think thats the solution. It has never been.
“Thats the worst part for me – its always the innocent ones that pay the price. The children, women, the ones that are not even involved. They have nothing to say. Its heartbreaking to watch.”
Nadim has never been one to stand by while such things are happening, though. Last summer, she helped raise almost $90,000 for Afghan women after the Taliban took control of her home country again.
Now, the Racing Louisville forward is working with Game of Our Lives (GOL), a social platform designed to encourage and facilitate social activism, on its Humane Ukraine campaign, which launched on Friday morning. Through it, people can donate items or money, sign petitions, educate others and more.
“I thought it was an amazing idea,” Nadim said. “I want to help, I want to make a change and having a platform where you actually have more people to help you and see it, I think thats a cool way to do it. For me, it was a no-brainer.”
Initially, when Nadim was approached about working with GOL, it was to create action that could empower women and girls, addressing gender inequality. The focus now is on helping those in Ukraine – but she has “a lot of plans” further down the line, too.
“In so many countries, girls are not allowed to get an education or even be a part of sports,” she said. “Having the opportunity to maybe bring sports in one way or another will be amazing because – this is something from my experience – I think football has a huge power. Its not just a game, its also a tool to educate.
“I feel like Ive done it when I was younger, in my community. I just kept playing football and then, in the end, people turn and have a different point of view. If we can do that on a bigger scale and in areas where girls are not allowed to attend football, then we educate the people around them. Thatll be amazing.
“You want little girls to have the same opportunities, same access, as boys.”
Demanding better for women and girls has always been something Nadim has stood for. Last year, as the NWSL was rocked by allegations of negligence and sexual abuse, she drew attention to some of her experiences.
In a series of tweets, Nadim claimed that her signature had been faked on a contract extension in the past and, after suffering an ACL injury in September, that lawyers at the league said she had to have surgery in the U.S., or they could consider taking “actions” against her.
“If somethings unfair, or somethings not being done right, I think you have an obligation to use your voice,” she added. “By using your voice, youre addressing an issue. By addressing the issue, you have the opportunity to change it or fix the problem. For me, its always been the case.
“I was in shock when all of that happened [in the NWSL] and it seems like its been going on for such a long time. Thats what bothered me, you know? Imagine if we had stopped this earlier. We couldve helped so many girls or players before.