Vatican Athletes Support Afghan Female Cyclist at Glasgow World Championships: Inspiring Sports Participation for Women in Afghanistan

2023-08-08 11:43:30

Two Vatican athletes are in the UK for the Glasgow World Championships amateur cycling race, encouraging female rider Zada ​​on the way to the finish line. She has been fighting for years for Afghan women to be able to participate in sports.

(Vatican News Network) – Two athletes from the Vatican Athletes’ Association, Rino Alberto Bellapadrona and Marcus Bergmann, compete in the amateur cycling world championships in Glasgow. Bella Padrona told “A female rider asked me if I had water in my water bottle, and I was running out of water, but I gave it to her.” Bella Padrona noted , the rider was wearing a T-shirt with the words “International Cycling Union for Refugees”, so he understood that the rider was a refugee, and then asked her where she was from, and the rider replied “Afghanistan”.

Bella Padrona said, “We continued our game and at some point we noticed that the young woman was falling behind. So, my partner and I decided to wait for her and help the young woman who was in trouble at that moment. People. As the Vatican Athletes Association, this is one of the basic principles that we convey, because we do not compete to win.” The Pontifical Athletes compete to carry the Pope’s message: tolerance, fraternity, friendship and communion. “If you come with us, we will accompany you to the finish line,” two Vatican athletes proposed. So, they persuaded female riders to come to the finish line with them.

They didn’t recognize her until after the game, when the girl took off her hard hat and the athletes of the Vatican Athletes’ Association talked to her. It turned out that the female cyclist was Masomah Ali Zada. She studied physical education in Kabul, Afghanistan, and was a former physical education teacher. She left Afghanistan in 2016 and sought asylum in France. She represented the Refugee Olympic Team in cycling at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and is a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission in 2022. Bella Padrona recounts that Zada ​​is also working to get women to play sports in her country. “As the Vatican Athletes Association, we want to help the weakest”.


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