Afghanistan’s former footballer misses family after Taliban takeover house

Former national team captain shares her thoughts on the imminent return of the Islamic State.

The former Afghan football team captain Khalida Popal has spoken out to reveal her grief and anger after the Taliban entered her Kabul home.

Khalida Popal: ‘They beat me in front of my brothers’ Read more

She and her family, including her husband and three young sons, have escaped her home and are now in hiding in another Kabul residence. The Taliban took her house late last month.

“There was a huge explosion, and then the Taliban came. They arrested my sons and drove them out. There was blood on my home,” Popal told the Sunday Times.

“I was crying. They threw me on the ground and beat me. Then they beat my husband and beaten my daughters. They told my children they had better run.”

Popal, a former champion in the 1984 World Cup for her home country, said she and her family thought they were being targeted by local supporters of a rival party.

“They [the Taliban] told my family that the reason for their aggression is because I work for the president [and have] been very supportive of him. Then they hit us and left us alone. But then they came back,” she said.

Popal fled her home with the family last month. “They didn’t even leave their heads covered. They smashed my head – we didn’t have any bullets in our heads,” she said.

“My family is crying, we want to come home and I am saying to them we don’t want to stay here but we don’t know what to do. They are children. You don’t know what else to do.”

Popal said she did not know where her children were and could not contact them. “What else can we do? They have guns,” she said.

The Taliban rule a swathe of southern Afghanistan and have made significant territorial gains in the past 12 months, most recently taking the northern province of Kunduz and leaving thousands homeless.

Popal, who has lived in the capital for the past four years, said she was tired of living in fear. “I want to leave because I don’t want to live like this,” she said.

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