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On Playing Football with Hijab, Muslim Girl Reveals Challenges

The scene of a hijabi Muslim girl playing football is not a familiar one in Lagos, Nigeria.

Yet, for Abdulazzez Zulfah, a 17-year-old Muslimah, the challenge is even more difficult.

“My mum left me when I was six months old, but my grandma picked me up when I was one and a half. And ever since I have been living with her,” Zulfah told The BBC.

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When she is not training on the pitch, she sells candies and sweets at the Ojota Bridge in Lagos as a means of helping out her family.

“I sell cola, sweets, and other things like that in Ojota, Lagos and I am a football player,” she said.

“Selling [these items] under Ojota bridge is difficult, but I see hope in myself.”

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Zulfah believes her hijab is not a hindrance but an inspiration for other Muslim girls who may be interested in sports.

“A lot of people encourage me a lot while selling under the bridge to keep pushing and I am going to be there one day,” she said.

“After years of constant training, I joined Oasis football club in Lagos state and it was very amazing. We play together and I have great teammates.

“Hijab is my identity. It shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving one’s dream.”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Zulfah is one of many Nigerian Hijabi girls making headlines recently.

Just few weeks ago, Shatu Garko, an 18-year-old, became the first hijabi Muslim to win the Miss Nigeria pageant since its inception in 1957.

A few months earlier in August, Fareedah Oyolola from Lagos, Nigeria, was named one of the world’s brightest students by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).