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Muslim Women Recognized as ‘Hometown Heroes’

Celebrating diversity that characterizes the West Midlands, several Muslim women have been recognized among 14 ‘Hometown Heroes’ unveiled by Birmingham 2022, ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games.

England’s first hijab-wearing boxing coach Haseebah Abdullah is one of those honored.

“It feels absolutely amazing to have been selected as a Hometown Hero. My aim has always been to provide a service, a home, a safe haven and a platform for equality in my sport and community,” she said, Express & Star reported.

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“I’ve fought really hard to earn my place as a boxing coach, challenging stereotypes and overcoming many barriers.

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“Receiving this recognition proves to me that we should always be the change we wish to see.

“As a coach I will continue to dedicate my time to create positive noise, break down barriers, accommodate different needs and be a driving force for equality and participation.”

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The 14-strong list was drawn up after 2022 Commonwealth Games organizers received hundreds of nominations from members of the public.

The list is made up of coaches, managers, umpires and fundraisers who have dedicated their lives to grassroots sport in the region.

Each ‘Hometown Hero’ will be profiled on Birmingham 2022’s website and social media channels over the coming weeks and will receive a special glass award to mark their achievement.

The list also included Naseem Akhtar, who has spent more than 20 years encouraging thousands of women in Birmingham to transform their lives through physical activity.

Yasmin Nessa, co-founder of Saltley Stallions Women’s Football Club, and Salma Bi, coach, umpire and fundraiser, and director of Sporting Pathways, Birmingham, are also among Muslims on the list.

“I’m in awe of our 14 Hometown Heroes. Their generosity to their club, whether that’s giving up their time or just being a listening ear, is inspiring,” Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid said.

“Shining the spotlight on these devoted individuals will no doubt encourage participation in sport and physical activity across the West Midlands.”

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Around the world, Muslim women are defying cultural barriers and stereotypes to compete and excel at the highest levels of sports — in football, fencing, weightlifting, basketball, ice hockey and more.

In 2016, 14 Muslim women medaled in the Rio Olympics, including American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim woman to represent the United States on the podium.

Her success has been spawning a new generation of female Muslim athletes eager to join the field.