Afghanistan is a country defined by decades of conflict, but one kind of competition is lifting the nation’s spirits: Since the early 2000s, strides in world cricket, soccer and martial arts have built a sporting community. But it’s not all fair on courts and fields, OZY reports. Though many of the Taliban’s gender prohibitions have been lifted, Afghan women still face structural barriers and sexual abuse scandals.
What have these athletes accomplished? Fighter Siyar Bahadurzada won a major MMA championship and last year climber Hanifa Yousoufi became the first woman to ascend Afghanistan’s highest peak, Mt. Noshaq.