Popal, whose story charts success and accomplishment in the face of immense adversity, will speak at the Forum on a panel entitled Urban regeneration through sport and will discuss the changing face of sport for women in Afghanistan and her personal journey battling discrimination, conflict and persecution.
Defying Taliban law at the age of 16 in order to play football with her female friends at school, Popal became a figurehead for women’s sport in Afghanistan, inspiring girls around the country to find the enjoyment and escapism through sport.
Just 12 years on, from her act of defiance, women’s sport in Afghanistan is flourishing. With professional leagues now common place, Popal has changed the lives of countless women throughout the war-torn nation. She will share her peace-through-sport story at the Forum, aiming to inspire others to stand up for innovative solutions through sport to build more inclusive societies.
Additionally, the internationally renowned cartoonist Plantu, will join French artist C215 on a panel entitled Sport as a driving force for creative expression, which will look at how sport combined with other forms of creative expressions can help people to flourish, even amid the harshest of circumstances.
The Peace and Sport International Forum brings together leading thinkers from across both the sport movement and the peace movement to share best practice. This year will celebrate the tenth year of the organisation’s existence, and the theme of the Forum will be Sport Innovation for Social Transformation, focussing on the importance of social innovation, disruption and forward-thinking in helping to transform societies through sport. To find out more about the Forum, click here.
Discussing the Forum, Khalida Popal said:
“For me, sport became an opportunity to escape the conflicts and persecution around me. It then became an opportunity for all women throughout our country, and we were able to make a more peaceful society through sport.”
Peace and Sport President and Founder, Joel Bouzou, added:
“Khalida Popal is an inspirational figure, not only in the world of sport, but in the wider peace process. The work she has done within Afghanistan and for women’s sport around the world has been truly inspirational, and I cannot wait for her to speak at the Forum.
“This year, the International Forum will be a real force for change around the world. We are bringing together the best minds from the peace-through-sport movement to share good practice, exchange knowledge and discuss real-world actions. As we celebrate our tenth Anniversary, it promises to be the most memorably Forum so far.”