Hadisa Wali Wins Sports Honor

Millikin sophomore Hadisa Wali has a passion for soccer and women’s rights.

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wali has seen firsthand the progress of women’s rights in the country, but believes there is still a lot of change to come about.

“Now women can work and go to school, but can’t always speak out,” Wali said. She explained that it really depends on the region of the country, some places have much more equal rights than others. Some regions are still extremely conservative.

Wali has spent a lot of her life traveling around the world to play soccer, which she originally started in the sixth grade in Afghanistan. At a young age, she was chosen to play for the capital team, and eventually, for the national team.

Wali graduated high school from the Woodstock School, considered to be one of the highest ranking international boarding schools in the world and located in India. At Woodstock, Wali met students from all around the world and continued to play soccer.

In December of last year, Wali was recognized at the annual Rumi awards in Las Vegas. The award ceremony is meant to celebrate outstanding contributions from Afghans around the world. Usually, the awards are for media and business, but this last year they added a new award: sports. Recognized for her outstanding work and sportsmanship with the Afghanistan Women’s Soccer team, Wali wasn’t completely expecting to win the award, so she was a bit surprised.

Wali was also awarded in 2010 at a similar ceremony for Afghans living in Europe for working and playing with the same Afghanistan Women’s Soccer team. She said, “I was really happy when I found out about the award, I had received one before, so it was kind of normal. But they had a red carpet for us to walk down and that was very cool.”

Wali had never heard of Millikin before it was mentioned to her by her high school guidance counselor. Originally, she was looking at schools on the East coast because that’s where her sister was and she was most familiar with that part of the states. However, she knew where Chicago was, and chose Millikin for its excellent academics and soccer team. Last season, Wali sat out and worked as the team manager after an injury, but hopes to be playing again soon. She also told herself upon arriving at Millikin that she wanted to be as involved as possible, and is part of Student Senate as the international and peer mentor as well as being a FYEM next year.

Wali continues to work in communities and uses soccer as her tool. Last summer she worked with children in San Francisco playing soccer. Next summer she has been approved by D.C. to work with Grassroots Soccer in Kabul. Grassroots Soccer is a nonprofit organization HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

As a player and a woman, Hadisa Wali has already started making a large difference in many of the communities she has traveled to. She studies political science in hope that one day she can go back to Afghanistan to work on Women’s rights.