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Golf against the Talibn: “It was the only chance to escape from it all”

Golf against the Talibn:

Shagufa Habibi, forced to marry at the age of 16, escaped the dictatorship of her country thanks to the aid she received.

Shagufa Habibi, in a recent image.THE WORLD

It is impossible to imagine how hard life could be in the 1990s in Afghanistan as a woman and the youngest of 11 siblings from a poor family. Shagufa Habibi I was born in 1995 in the city of Herat, in the west of the country, near the mountains and the desert. times of Taliban dictatorship. An explosion left his father without a hand and unable to work. The only familiar foods were you and bread. We have to accept fate, her mother always replied when Shagufa rebelled against hardship.

I remember that when I was four years old I was afraid of all that, it was living in a nightmare. Even the computer screen can’t hide Shagufa’s glassy eyes as he remembers the past. Now he is 26 years old and, fortunately, he lives in Arlington (United States) thanks to golf. This sport saved my life, he says.

His story is creepy. Shagufa was not willing to accept her fate and the first thing she rebelled against was illiteracy. Her parents never planned for their young daughter and seven sisters to go to school, the Talibn regime forbid. In 2001, coinciding with the fall of the authoritarian government, schools were opened for girls, but Shagufa’s traditional father did not tolerate his daughters taking this path of debauchery.

Marriage of convenience

Despite the prohibitions at home and behind his father’s back, he began to go to school every day, pretending that he accompanied his mother in her daily chores. The plan worked for a few weeks until the deception was discovered, the whole family lived through that moment in terror, until Shagufa knew how to convince her father, who ended up accepting the situation and reluctantly allowing his daughters to go to class.

But this happiness was short-lived, on the day Shagufa turned 16, his family had prepared an unpleasant surprise for him: a marriage of convenience. A wealthy old man was waiting for him. It helps you get into college and you have to accept it. There were no more slogans. The situation with her husband was untenable, Shagufa spent her days locked up at home, enduring all kinds of humiliations, until a year later she was able to escape to return to her parents. Plunged into a deep depression, the sport crossed her path.

He started with basketball, again behind the back of his family, since Afghan society still did not see with good eyes that a woman played sports. And one day, on the way to school, I discovered the possibility of trying a new sport, golf. There is no golf course in Herat, in fact the only golf facility in Afghanistan is in Kabul and it has only nine holes on the ground, but in Herat they set up a kind of practice course and there Shagufa discovered unknown sensations. My God, it’s something unique, he said when he hit the first ball. He began to play golf regularly and used wooden clubs.

Asian Women’s University

One day, the local coach arrived with good news: they had been invited to a tournament in Bangladesh and they needed one more player to complete the team of 11. To choose the last member, a competition for the closest shot to the flag was planned. No one let her closer than Shagufa. In Bangladesh it was the first time I saw a real field. Everything was new to her. Outside of green the surprise was to see that the women were not wearing long dresses or covered.

The sporting experience was good, but not as good as the personal one, Shagufa was clear that he should leave Afghanistan and during his trip he discovered the Asian Women’s University there, where many girls in a similar situation to hers got a chance. After returning home, the first thing he did was write to the educational institution requesting a scholarship to study financed by the United States. Shagufa dropped everything to escape to Bangladesh and graduate in economics. For four years, he combined his studies with golf, even creating the university team.

My dream is not far

After graduating, he got a new scholarship, this time sports, in Arlington. My parents didn’t understand it, but it was the only chance to get away from it all. It was not easy for Shagufa to build a life with such a major culture shock and without money or friends, but he did so while continuing to practice and improve his golf. Golf changed everything and taught me to focus my life. It is an individual sport where you have to make decisions, overcome obstacles, be brave, be patient, achieve your goals. My dream is to become a professional player and it is not far away, she says, while grieving for the situation in her country.

I am suffering a lot for my family and for all the girls who are trapped and have no choice. Now he gathers money to send it to his family and collaborates with foundations that fight to eradicate child marriages. Always, between blows.

Reference from elmundo