Name: Khatool Shahzad
Organization: Afghan Female Soccer Team Committee
Functional Title: Head
Country: Afghanistan
Course participated in: Women’s Leadership and Empowerment for the Afghanistan National Soccer Team

Khatool Shahzad is the Head of the Afghan Female Soccer Team Committee. She is also involved in the Youth Convergence Organization which aims to support young people and address their professional needs. Through the organization, she provides technical support for two soccer teams and two cricket teams.

She took a course with UNITAR entitled “Women’s Leadership and Empowerment for the Afghanistan National Soccer Team” which was organized by our offices in Hiroshima. The workshop aimed to provide its participants with the knowledge and tools of leadership, communication, and empowerment so that they can ensure their own well-being and the well-being of other women in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the end of the workshop, the women developed strategies to become agents of change so that they could serve their people and their country.

Khatool has been passionate about soccer for as long as she can remember. She played frequently in high school and was such a skilled player that she was recruited by the Afghanistan National Soccer Team. Unfortunately, her dreams of becoming a professional player were dashed when she suffered a devastating knee injury. Although she couldn’t play, she was determined to remain engaged with the sport. She decided she wanted to be a referee and took courses from AFC, AFF, and FIFA. She has now obtained recognition as an international assistant referee.

She took the course with UNITAR to improve her abilities in the areas of leadership, coaching, and management. She could “compare the training environment of Japan with Afghanistan […] to see the Japan female team’s improvement and how they are practicing using different resources.”

She recalled that the course was all-encompassing. It was very hands-on and involved all kinds of different activities like practical exercises and leadership and team-building training. They were visited by schools, soccer teams, and soccer players families to share their experiences with the sport. They also took trips to the peace park, the peace museum, and different stadiums to get a sense of what Japan was like.

Khatool said the course was extremely useful and has helped her a lot in the professional sphere:

“I have shared all the experiences and knowledge I gained during the trip to other soccer players and my colleagues.”

Her next step is to get her Master’s degree to better support women, especially in soccer and sport. She hopes that UNITAR can continue its partnership with the female team so that women can emerge as symbols of peace and transparency in Afghanistan.

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