GLASGOW – A teenage Scottish Muslim’s dedication to break down stereotypes and encourage fellow Muslim students to join the sports’ courts has earned her a Sunday Mail Young Scot nomination in the Equality And Diversity category.
“Muslim women haven’t been given the opportunity to become great athletes. There could be the next Andy Murray or Michael Jordan from our community out there but you would never know,” Mukadass Javaid, 17, told The Daily Record.
“Sport gives Muslim girls the chance to grow and flourish. All we need to do is break down the barriers.”
Mukadass, 17, helps run a weekly project for Muslim girls at Glasgow’s Hillhead High School, where they are coached in a variety of sports including basketball, netball, and badminton.
She believes that if Muslim girls received the right encouragement, they will soon make sport’s history.
“I think some are afraid of what their parents might think because, traditionally and culturally, the sport is not something young Muslim girls do or are expected to do. So many good things come from sport and it is a real shame that some young people have felt they cannot participate due to their faith or religion,” she added.
The schoolgirl, who helped her basketball team reach the final of the 2018 Glasgow Schools’ Cup, added, “For me, my culture and sport go hand in hand. There are lots of sports young Muslim women can do without having to be disrespectful to our customs. Basketball is just one of them.”
Mukadass’ efforts are not limited to sports. The young hijabi Muslim student also helps younger pupils with their reading.
“I play basketball in my hijab and cover my arms and legs so I am not going against my culture in any way. Last year, basketball’s governing body FIBA lifted the ban on headscarves for female professional athletes, acknowledging it causes no obstruction in the sport.
“Nike has just brought out a pro-hijab for female competitors. I haven’t got one yet but I’m thinking about it. If the big sports companies are moving with the times, then so should we.”
History of Success
Mukadass has also won several medals with her school team.
“I started to play basketball when I was in primary six and then, when I got to high school, I started to take it really seriously. Before the girls’ team was formed in the third year, I trained with boys,” she said.
“We were playing a team from England a while back. I was the only girl wearing a headscarf and afterward, the visiting headteacher came over and said, ‘Wow, how is this possible? You wouldn’t see that happening in England. I wish it would.
“Not long after, the PE department decided to set up the Muslim Girls’ Sports Project and I’ve been involved with it ever since.”
The sessions, which are on every Tuesday morning before school, was given funding from Children In Need.
Mukadass, who hopes to study maths at university next year, said: “I went round all the assemblies encouraging girls to come along. It has proved really popular.
“We do six-week blocks in sports including basketball, netball, and badminton.
“We went to Blairvadach Outdoor Centre in Helensburgh for a week in June. We did kayaking, canoeing, and orienteering, activities Muslim girls would usually never be involved in. It was fab.
“I’ve been shortlisted for a place on the Young People’s Sports Panel. I really hope I get a place so I can give young Muslims a voice – sports Scotland have the knowledge and knowhow to make positive changes.”
She added: “I’m lucky to go to a really sporty school but I would love projects like we have to be rolled out across Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.
“Even though I have to leave school next year and go to uni, I’m hoping to stay involved and expand it if I can. It’s got so much potential.”