Racing Louisville FC striker Nadia Nadim joined CBS Sports podcast Attacking Third this week to discuss Louisville's recent Women's Cup title, partnering with the city of Louisville in support of refugees, and her advocacy for women and girls of Afghanistan.
Nadim and her family fled Afghanistan amidst Taliban rule over 20 years ago when her father - an Afghan army general - was executed in 2000. Along with her mother and siblings, a 12-year-old Nadim journeyed from Afghanistan, through Pakistan, and Italy before receiving asylum in Denmark.
"It definitely played a huge role in the person and the player I am today," Nadim said of her family's experience. "If you go through difficulties in life. When you're having difficulties or issues on the football side, they don't really compare, you know? So I always put things in perspective.
"[...] It has helped me a lot and this has made me, I don't know, [have an] unbreakable -- I would say -- mindset on and of the field. Just because I think it has to take a lot -- a lot -- more to break me down. And this is a part of everything I've been through. I don't wish it for anyone, but if you go through hard times, at least at the end, somehow you should be able to use it for something positive and I think that's what I have done."
Nadim became a naturalized citizen of Denmark in 2008, and the Afghan-Danish forward has represented the country on the international stage since 2009, becoming the first ever naturalized citizen to represent a Denmark senior national football team.
The 33-year-old striker has played for former NWSL clubs Sky Blue FC (now NJ/NY Gotham FC) and Portland Thorns FC, where she won the NWSL championship title with Portland back in 2017. She made her return to the league via Louisville after winning a French domestic league title with Paris Saint-Germain during the 2020-21 season. Nadim always been forthcoming about her painful past in an effort to educate. Nadim has been a vocal advocate for Afghan refugees throughout her time as a professional athlete.
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"The conversation is not easy. It's never is, you know, if you want to change something," Nadim said. "That conversation is never easy because there's always going to be people who are like 'yeah, that's not my problem. We're not interested in it.' So how do you make people, engage people, in this?
"I think that's also the reason I always talk about it, because I feel like when you hear it in the media, you see on TV, you don't really feel that's a part of your life. You don't really care because so far away but suddenly, if you see someone that you know like me, or you have a connection to that, it just gets so close to you [...] then you start seeing the images, and understanding the images. [...]That's how the world is nowadays, it doesn't involve you if you don't have the connection, you don't really care."
After her arrival to Louisville, Racing won the inaugural Women's Cup in August. The inaugural four-team tournament was hosted by Louisville and featured the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars alongside European clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. After the victory, a fundraising effort was launched for humanitarian relief supporting women and girls in Afghanistan. Nadim, in collaboration with Racing Louisville, Louisville mayor Greg Fisher, Gloria Football, and The Women's Cup launched a GoFundMe page as a central place for donations. Their goal is to raise $100,000 for Afghan women and girls.
Activism and education has run parallel alongside Nadim's entire professional playing career to date. For her, working to assist Afghan women and refugees isn't where the work stops. Nadim is currently studying for her final exams to become a doctor.
"I feel I have a platform I can reach out to people and then maybe, maybe, be a part of [a slight] change for the better," Nadim said. "Sometimes it might be annoying for other people, but I think that's like an obligation that you have, in general, especially if you want to change. And I think there's a lot of things that I want to change in the world. And besides [activism] and football, I'm also becoming a doctor soon, hopefully end of this end of the season, I'm studying very very hard for my exams right now."