“I genuinely think it’s a lifesaver,” business management student and gym-goer Faith Al Saad said about the new hijab created by the university.
Adorned with their emblem, the Brunel University in London hopes to boost low female sports participation statistics.
A 2017 study by Sports England reported that just 18% of Muslim women participate in regular sport, against 30% of the UK’s female population as a whole.
“It’s really lightweight, really easy to wear, really comfortable – it feels like you’re wearing nothing on your head, which is amazing, especially when doing sports,” Al Saad added.
Faith said she is “100% confident” that sports hijabs will encourage more Muslim women into the sport.
“Muslim women were, of course, participating in sports on their own and in private, but they weren’t really going out to competitions or using sport as a social tool to get involved in activities,” said student union president Ranjeet Rathore.
The idea is expected to be copied by other universities as well.
“There are now other universities that want to partner with us, who want to take samples off us, who want to do their own hijab – which is great news,” Rathore said.
Last autumn, Girls On The Run organization in eastern Iowa also supplied athletic versions of the Muslim hijab to girls to encourage more participation.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
In October 2017, Switzerland-based federation (FIBA) lifted the ban on religious headgear and allows players who wear articles of faith, including the hijab, worn by Muslim female athletes, to participate in international competitions.