Afghan female taekwondo athletes train in secret

Afghan veteran taekwondo trainer Yasamin Azizi has been coaching in secret since the Taliban seized power in August.

She said she had 60-70 students before the western-backed government collapsed.

Now, she is confined to coaching no more than ten a day.

"It has been two or three months since the previous government collapsed and we train secretly in different gyms, and as you all know, that girls are not allowed to resume their activities or training, but I still do my best to serve my society, especially those girls who are addicted to exercise."

Azizi has been a member of Afghanistan's national female taekwondo team for the past six years.

According to media reports, she is also one of the country's first female referees in the sport.

But like many women in the country, she has been uncertain about her rights since the Taliban took power, despite the moderate face that the militant group has put on.

When the Taliban last ruled the country from 1996-2001, women were barred from employment and education.

One of Azizi's trainees, Behtareen Rostaee, said members of their taekwondo community were questioned by the Taliban.

"Three days ago some of our gym partners who are also members of the national taekwondo team were pursued by the Taliban all the way to their homes. The Taliban even went inside their homes for inquiries. This is really hard for us, that we can neither resume our education nor can we continue our training."

Making matters more complicated, Azizi is an ethnic Hazara, a predominantly Shi'ite minority.

They have long been discriminated against in Afghanistan.

Many recent attacks claimed by Sunni extremist group Islamic State have targeted Shi'ite mosques across the country.

Azizi, who competed for her country in major matches, said she has considered leaving Afghanistan for good and pursuing her taekwondo career elsewhere.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting