Hummel's new women's football kit allows Afghans to play the sport while maintaining their cultural modesty.
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Women’s sport in traditional muslim countries has often come under attack. Football virtually disappeared from Afghanistan during the 1990s, when the national stadium was used for public punishments, but the sport has made a recent resurgence. Following an official lifting on the ban in head coverings in football by Fifa, Danish sportswear manufacturer Hummel has unveiled new football team shirts that allow female players to compete while maintaining a modest attire.
The women’s kit for the Afghanistan national team features an undergarment that maintains an integrated hijab-like base-layer. Former women’s team captain Khalida Popal, who helped work with Hummel in designing the shirt, said: “It was a huge honor to captain my country, but it was an even bigger honor to be seen as a role model and an inspiration for thousands of young girls and women in Afghanistan.”
Although many matches have had to be postponed or cancelled due to Afghanistan’s history of conflicts and foreign interventions, football remains popular, with the men’s team winning the 2013 South Asian Football Federation Championship.
Sports kit for muslim women has been around since 2006, but how else can women’s sport be encouraged to thrive in prohibitive countries?