When 18-year-old Afghan Maniza Thalashova joined a small but solid break dance troupe a few months ago, she was the only girl among them. However, it already has the opportunity to represent its country in the sport, which will be added to one of the new disciplines at the Olympics, Reuters wrote in a statement.

“I want to be different,” Kabul told a journalist as he waited to begin his training at the martial arts gym. “I want to be a role model in Afghanistan.”

However, many conservative Afghans view any dance with suspicion and are still more determined when a woman participates in public. Talova confirms that he has already received death threats, but in the meantime he continues to dance.

In Afghanistan, the fact that you are a woman is a danger. For the past two decades, gunmen have mostly targeted school-going girls, for example, last May, when 24 people, including 16 mothers, were killed in a threatening attack on a hospital maternity ward.

More progressive Afghans fear that the country’s progress in the field of women’s rights has been in jeopardy since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001. The government is negotiating peace with the Taliban, which could end up in a more influential movement in the country, and the United States is preparing to withdraw the remaining troops. “It worries me when I think of the Taliban coming back and I have to stop dancing,” says the young dancer.

Its club was founded in Kabul just over a year ago and has about 30 members, including six women already. Exercises are used three times a week and mainly to train acrobatic elements such as head speed.

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Courage is valued more than physics

“I think it’s good to do games like Break Dance for girls,” says coach Sadaj Demurian. “We have four years to train more women and introduce at least one or two international athletes.”

Break dance was born on the streets of New York in the 1970s, and the International Olympic Committee recently decided to screen it at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. It will cater to other sports aimed at younger audiences, including surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing. Presented for the first time at this year’s postponed Olympics in Tokyo.

“It’s a very difficult game, you have to have a good physique to learn it – it’s not easy, but which is easier?” Talvova argues and specifically mentions the element that should carry the full weight of the body on one side. But more valuable than physical endurance is courage in Afghanistan, even if the young sportswoman has it to herself.

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