Working hard to become the first Black Muslim woman to represent England at Rugby, Zainab Alema is hoping to inspire others in Black History Month and beyond.
“Can you imagine someone like me playing for the national team?” asks Alema, a Muslim wife, mother, nurse and rugby player, Wales Online reported.
“That would just inspire so many people. It would be a history making moment and such a powerful message to people in general, be that people from the black community or the Muslim community, or mothers or career women.
“There are so many people I feel I represent and even just being on the journey to try to become the first black Muslim woman to play for England I feel would inspire across the board and that’s my ultimate mission.
“Some people ask why I bring race into it. It’s because I don’t want other people out there to think rugby isn’t for them, because it is, everyone is welcome whatever their race, sex or background and that’s why I make a point of referencing it in my story.”
Alema was named the Sunday Times grassroots sportswoman of the year 2020 in recognition of her inspirational impact on female players across the UK, Ghana, and Morocco.
Known as Zee, Zainab works in NHS frontline as an intensive care neonatal nurse at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. The Barnes RFC player is also the founder of rugby charity “Studs In The Mud” which provides equipment and funding to allow women to play where rugby.
“I’ve always said I’m proud to be a black woman, especially in the rugby scene and ‘proud to be’ is such a fitting theme for this year. Hopefully, it will come to a point where we’re not just celebrating a Black History month – it’s a lifelong celebration,” she said.
“Richmond is the most diverse club I’ve been at. They’ve supported me in many ways, especially offering me a prayer space. As a Muslim, I pray five times a day, so before games and whenever I’m at the club I don’t have to worry about where to pray.
“I’ve got a designated place and that means so much to me. We’re such a beautiful club, have a great history and it’s absolutely amazing.”
Alema is hopeful that more girls may join the sport soon after the government backed the RFU’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2025.
“World Cups are momentous occasions that bring the country together. That’s what rugby’s about. Rugby’s about bringing people from different walks of life together and celebrating the rugby spirit,” she said.
“I’d literally encourage anyone and everyone to get behind England’s 2025 Rugby World Cup bid.”