Racing Louisville FC’s Nadia Nadim is a force at forward. Her impressive soccer resume includes playing for Denmark, where she represents the women’s national team and was twice voted Player of the Year. However, as you dive deeper into Nadim’s story, it quickly becomes evident that it isn’t her time on the pitch that has shaped her as much as what brought her there.
Born in Afghanistan, Nadim was a young child when her father, a general in the Afghan army, was executed by the Taliban. This tragedy left Nadim, her mother and her four sisters fighting to understand how to survive. What came next was an act of sacrifice and bravery as Nadim’s mother sold everything she owned to get them out of Afghanistan, and eventually to Denmark, as refugees.
For the next eight months in Denmark, Nadim and her family lived in a refugee camp, and that is where fate stepped in. Next to her camp were soccer fields, and for the first time, she saw girls playing competitively. She realized that was also what she wanted. Although she had never played soccer, she desperately wanted to learn because she saw how it connected people. “You don’t have to understand the culture or the country to play football,” she said. Fast forward to today, and not only has she established herself as a professional soccer player, but she continues to work toward her goals outside of the sport by pursuing her medical degree while still playing competitively.
“I’ve always been that person that was supposed to do the changing. In Afghanistan, I guess I had to change and be different because I was a girl. … There should be a place for me. I don’t change myself, I change the environment around me.”