Basketball Player Samira Asghari Becomes Afghanistan’s First IOC Member

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Saturday November 10, 2018

Kabul (BNA) It wasn’t until 2004 that women from Afghanistan competed in the Olympics for the first time. Fast forward 14 years and now Samira Asghari is the first person from the war-torn country to be named an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. Not only that, but at 24 years old, she’s the youngest person to ever be named to the committee.
Asghari, an Afghanistan women’s national basketball team player, is one of nine new members elected to the IOC, which is responsible for ensuring the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, promoting peace using sports as a catalyst, acting against any form of discrimination affecting the Games and encouraging and supporting women in athletics.
So, how did Asghari earn her spot? According to AIPS Media, Asghari and her family had to flee to Iran shortly after she was born due to the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan.
“My parents came to the Iran, when I was barely a few months old. But while I did not had any memories of Afghanistan, my parents and grandparents have always shared their wonderfully vivid memories and it is because of this that I love my country and people,” she told AIPS Media.
As a young girl, Asghari was encouraged by her family to stay active and participate in sports. Because her father was heavily involved in martial arts and kung fu, she practiced as well, but then carved her own path and began playing basketball. Thanks to the support from her family, something so rare for Afghan girls who wish to participate in sports, she joined the Afghanistan national basketball team at the junior level. As her game developed, she was then called up to the senior team.
“When I started to be an athlete, there were so many cultural challenges, people from my province were talking and they wanted to prevent me from doing sport, but my family supported me and told me to do my job,” Asghari recalled.
Not only was she impressive on the court, but she stood out off of it as well. That’s why Gen. Zahir Aghbar, the former president of the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee asked her to join his committee. She worked as a female representative and then became an international relations board member for the National Olympic Committee. Then in 2014, she became a member of the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission while working with her country’s Olympic committee as a financial director and the Deputy Secretary General.
Now as a member of the IOC, one of her responsibilities will be to help abolish obstacles so many women around the world face when it comes to playing sports.
“I am very excited,” she said. “Women everywhere, and especially women in those countries who are suffering from war, insecurity, cultural and many other problems, need support and we should join hands with them.”
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