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Nigara Shaheen: judo is stronger than geopolitics

14 Nov 2017 14:10

 Emmeric Le Person    Emmeric Le Person

Afghan judoka Nigara Shaheen is one of the remarkable figures in women’s judo. Not because of her performances, but a female judoka from Afghanistan is quite exceptional. She competes at the highest levels in judo where obviously it’s quite a struggle, but not compared to the struggle she faced to start judo.

Judo photographer Emmeric Le Person had a long interview and portrayed the Judoka who may not be the best athlete of all times, but she is intelligent and plays a fair role in the recognition of women’s judo. Le Person spoke to her at the Asian Championships in Hong Kong and was impressed.

She has only been training with men for a long time. Judo is too confidential, and too few women practice it.

Shaheen: “I found in Judo the way that allowed me to find confidence and show my strength when I needed it. The environment is not so good for women to play this sport. Moreover, I think it is more related to the ideology of women in our country. In judo, women have a close encounter with a male partner, at least the male instructor, and this is not traditionally and culturally accepted.

She assumes her daily passion, far from the habits and customs of Afghan women. And even if it’s difficult. Because she testifies:

“I am not recognized in society as a national sportswoman.”

She was impregnated with the philosophy of Jigoro Kano: always get up once fallen. She recognizes that Judo gives her the strength to go forward.

Shaheen is 24 years old! She spent all her childhood as a refugee, until 2012. It was in Pakistan that she started Judo … and won 2 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze! I don’t have dual nationality, but know that as an Afghan, one can participate in competitions Pakistan.

In Hong Kong at the Asian Championships was that the first international competition under the colors of Afghanistan?

Not at all, in February 2016 she participated in the South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shilong in India. An unknown and confidential trial for other continents.

“I competed directly for the bronze medal, I scored a wazari when I got up I saw all the Afghans who encouraged me. I was so emotional that I totally lost control and caught my opponent’s leg which is a fatal hansokomake in judo I will always regret this match, but at the same time I will always cherish the moment when Afghanistan scored in the women for the first time a wazari.”

Of course, Shaheens first goal is to win her first international fight. Her dream to participate in in Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2029… 16 years after the participation in Athens of Fahima Rezayee. Nigara was 11, judoka for only a year. Discovering her illustrious predecessor, Nigara will have this formula that remains engraved in my memory: “I knew when I started judo that I was not the first, but I know that I will not be the last. The economic situation of his country is poor. Athletes no longer drive to nearby Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. It is no longer a priority.”

But Nigara has also invested in her studies and in Afghan society. After returning home, she graduated from the American University of Kabul in Political Science and Public Administration. Here again the judo helped her:

“Judo helped me to strengthen my self-confidence not only in exams but also in my daily life, whether in debates, competitions or more.”

Read the full interview of Emmeric Le Person with Nigara Shaheen.

Emmeric writes books about "the Heart of Judo" check if those are something for you to purchase.

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Related Judo Photos

  • Nigara Shaheen (AFG) - Asian Championships Hong Kong (2017, HKG) - © Emmeric Le Person
  • Nigara Shaheen (AFG) - Asian Championships Hong Kong (2017, HKG) - © Emmeric Le Person
  • Nigara Shaheen (AFG) - Asian Championships Hong Kong (2017, HKG) - © Emmeric Le Person

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