the story of Fatemeh

GIRONAHis love for sports began before he was born. The mother, a professional volleyball player in Tehran, the capital of Iran, practiced while she was pregnant with Fatemeh Khalajhedayati, a member of the volunteer team for the II Catalan Sports Week, which will take place in the Girona regions from this Thursday 13 to 23 October. “She would take me to her training sessions and I would stay around, playing with anything and picking up balls. I had barely walked and the first memories are these, watching my mother compete. As I grew up I tried many sports: gymnastics, athletics, basketball… At home they let me choose, I could decide what I wanted to do. And now I’m here, in Catalonia,” he says with a laugh, despite not having had an easy life. In fact, in the whole conversation he only loses his smile when he is asked about the situation that is being experienced these days in his country of origin. “You see me happy, but I’m very distressed. I think a lot about the family, because I have them there and these are difficult times. I don’t wish what we’re going through on anyone, it’s not a pleasant feeling. But I want to convey their voice”.

From Mahsa Amini to 1-O

The death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, arrested by the moral police for not wearing the Islamic veil properly, has caused a real revolt in which women have said enough. “It’s not just wearing a headscarf, it’s not just about that. This is the last straw,” he admits. “People are dying, people are dying… I get a lump in my throat.” Khalajhedayati pauses for a few seconds and continues: “There are very rich countries, with towers that reach the sky, with luxury cars. What about my people? How should they live? What’s wrong with them? It’s not just the handkerchief. It We must be heard and, above all, something must be done. Because people are dying in the streets.”

Her parents, with whom there is little communication because the government shuts down the internet and they often have no connection, have lived through the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War and are sick of it. “They don’t want to experience more wars or deaths. It’s like when Spain had the Civil War and the times of Franco. People are suffering, they want it to end. And to them, in the end, whatever happens doesn’t matter to them , because they have little life left. They will go, they are old. They just hope to leave something worthwhile.” Khalajhedayati was in Catalonia when 1-O broke out. “People were only asking for their right, to vote. It’s not that complicated to understand, to vote and see what the result is. And if it’s not legal, let it be so that we can move forward. The same thing happens in Iran, with a difference: here they throw rubber balls at you, there they shoot real guns.”

Pressures to be a woman

In Iran, sport is mostly a male thing. She had already opted for rowing. “Some people judge you. If they see you talking to the coach, they wonder what relationship you have with them. Well, none, I’m the athlete and he’s the coach. Fortunately, I’ve experienced these things less because I I’ve had to be surrounded by good people, but I have friends who have had a bad time, who have put pressure on them.” The story is controlled. “Now there are ex-athletes in the offices, but when I was there, there weren’t any. And they didn’t know what was happening to us, what we were feeling or what we were missing. We already have to face enough difficulties to add unnecessary ones. At first I was silent , but in the end you can’t take it and you rebel,” adds Khalajhedayati, who just wanted to be heard. “We didn’t get attention, nobody came to ask me what I wanted.”

Leaving his country was one of the decisions of his life. “It was difficult for my mother, because we shared many things, we were very close. Until she came and checked that he was happy, she did not calm down.” She landed in Barcelona in 2011, in love with a Catalan she met in Iran when he was the sailing coach. “I looked around for half a year, I had to assess whether it was worth leaving a family and a land to have another. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s difficult to have empathy; but if I took the step, it was clear to me that Catalonia “I had to make it my home.” And he has become there, and so much so that he has done it. “I already have level C in Catalan, eh,” he exclaims, before bursting into a big laugh. He speaks the language of wonder. “I learned it in two years, learning it, using it on the street, in the shops, with the dog.” Any formula was good.

Carpentry, a dream come true

When she was little, Khalajhedayati used to tell her mother that she dreamed of working in carpentry. He can boast that he has achieved it. “She put her hands on her head, because she had the prejudice instilled that a girl couldn’t do that. We’re talking about thirty years ago, but I always had that inside that I could never fulfill my dream.” He first started in a motorhome workshop and now takes care of any project he can get his hands on. “Here you don’t have a closed task, you have to do a little bit of everything, depending on what’s there.” Minutes before his date with the ARA, he was doing the opening windows of a house. “I’m passionate about it, really.”

He has been living in Catalonia for more than a decade – Khalajhedayati asks that neither his place of residence nor his place of work appear in this report – and he has also been able to represent the Catalan national team, with which he won a number of regattas international in France. “The Catalan Federation wanted me, even though my body had plummeted because I hadn’t practiced elite sport for a long time. I went to Banyoles every day to train, every day. Making trips by car up and down , leaving me a lot of hours on the road. It was cool to be on the national team. In my time in Iran, I was one of the pioneers. I remember they were looking for tall girls who could swim.”

He currently practices orienteering. “It’s different from everything, it captivates me. When I see someone 90 years old with us… Everyone runs in their own way, the most important thing is to be part of it and share it.” Khalajhedayati does it with her four-year-old daughter. “It’s very nice to do this way folded, the mother did it with me and now I do it with the daughter. I took it with me when she was in the pram and later I put it in the backpack for babies. And if I don’t “I take it, he gets angry,” he clarifies. “This must be educated; because what he sees will live. The children imitate us and I want my lesson to be: “Hey, you have everything to live for, do it, eat the world”.


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