‘Brave Lady’ who lost arms, legs in Pakistan blast talks to CNN

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Khalida Popal was the captain of the Afghan football team and nicknamed “Brave Lady”, but in June of last year the country’s dominant Taliban faction seized her stadium…

'Brave Lady' who lost arms, legs in Pakistan blast talks to CNN

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Khalida Popal was the captain of the Afghan football team and nicknamed “Brave Lady”, but in June of last year the country’s dominant Taliban faction seized her stadium and tore up the national anthem.

“I never thought my team’s Afghan FC stadium would ever be used as a target because we, Afghans, cannot stand to live with silence in our own country,” Popal told CNN’s Arwa Damon

Youth and sports are pillars of the Afghan people’s identity, and Popal said destroying Afghanistan’s “legacy of hope” had a deadly effect on people’s hopes for a peaceful future.

“I believe the Taliban caused a lot of tears because it played a large role in our downfall,” she said.

“They made us defend war in words instead of using our swords. If they [The Taliban] had not intervened, we would have survived. I have a lot of memories from the day. I remembered the moment. I will never forget it.”

Popal, who played 14 internationals for Afghanistan, died in the days after the attack in Quetta, Pakistan, when a Taliban bomb tore through the Shia Hazara Quetta hospital.

Some 2,000 people were killed, including Popal, and another 190 injured in what UN chief Antonio Guterres called a “massacre.”

She left behind a 4-year-old daughter.

“The heartache would bring tears for me, but I was strong enough to move on,” Popal said of her daughter.

“I want people to hear my story and understand that the atrocities committed by the Taliban should be prevented,” she said.

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