Hijab and Football



Veil, Burka, Babushka or Bedsheet?

I live in Toronto. Hijab is hardly a foreign concept. Many women from varied ethnic communities choose to cover. Some fully. Some partially. Some in amazingly-coloured,  culturally-inspired fabrics. Some in pristine designer brands. On the subway. On the street. At concerts. At a Masjid. At schools. At the flea market. Wherever.

Questions come flying at me on the football pitch. Where women my age (30+) are NOT routinely seen on a team or part of a recognized & affiliated club.

Inquiries don’t come from my teammates because they know me. And they’ve asked already. Very politely. And they don’t really care as long as I do my job on-field.

Which is NOT to set up a Muslim and Non-Muslim Bridge-building Session or engage on a full-fledged discussion on Rights of Muslim Women. It’s to put the ball in the bloody net.

The opposing teams seem to find it fascinating and odd that I am there- all covered. Even if we’ve met before. Same drill.
As I warm up and stretch they are staring and whispering. They are sizing me up: lean, woman of colour, red jersey, longsleeved shirt underneath, Kickass boots (I’m biased), Black bottoms, Red underpiece with black hijab on top.

Sure, it may seem like a lot of clothing. Because it is. And that’s how I play. How I CHOOSE to play.

The interaction always goes like this:

Them: “So… uh nice run”.

Me: “Yeah, Thanks”.

And I wait for it.

Them: “Can I ask you something”?

Me: “Right”

Them: “So, um…..do you wear that…veil all the time? Do you have to wear it while you play? Don’t you sweat? Aren’t you hot? I am so hot. I am dying. It’s so hot these days. I can’t imagine with all that on. Is that a burka? A veil? What’s the proper name?”.

I let them babble nervously for awhile, and keep my eye on the play. As if this game is that important. Well, it is. More important than their ridiculous monologue.

As they are stammering away, realizing the inane commentary is getting no response, I nod and offer my standard line: “I’m used to it”. Then I take off.

I would like to add some dramatic license and present a picture of me scoring 3 goals and performing in some Messi-like manner whereby achieving a great victory for all  oppressed Muslim women and earning the respect and acceptance of these nimrods.

Truthfully? No. Some games I play well. Some games I get called for illegal slide-tackles. Some game my shots are more embarrassing than is allowed. Some games
I score. Some days I get booked because I have a bad temper, have Pathan blood and I play physically. Some days I just suck.


So I play, endure this line of questioning and sometimes, I laugh. Covered.

Read the entire article Off-record but on-field: Veil, Burka, Babushka or Bedsheet?


Why Bradford City fan in a hijab holds key to the game’s future



What was striking, though, was the identity of the fan yelling at Bannan: she was an Asian woman wearing a hijab. What is more, she was with a couple of female Asian friends, in a section of the Valley Parade crowd dotted with Asian faces.

If it is possible that someone yelling at a footballer represents evidence of social progress, then this was the most encouraging image of the season.

After all the miserable racist vituperation that has swilled around football recently, here was a Muslim woman, comfortable in the middle of an ethnically mixed crowd, engaging with the game’s traditional possibilities. And in doing so, clearly having the time of her life. How pleasant was that to see?

The good news is that shouty Bradford woman is not alone. For years it was to the game’s shame that Asian people felt excluded from immersing themselves in its glories.

And the Asians are coming. At Manchester United home games, television audiences have for several years now seen a family of Sikhs doughnutting the dugout, passing each other sweets as Sir Alex Ferguson stalks the technical area.

At Wolverhampton Wanderers, the growth in interest among the city’s Asians has been growing rapidly since 2007, when a group of six fans formed Punjabi Wolves.

“We just thought: the game belongs to us as much as anybody,” Raj Bains, the organisation’s founder, explains. “I started going to matches in 1979. In the early days it was a bit scary, even with the home fans. But there are no issues now.”

Within five years, the organisation has grown to the point it now has more than 800 members. At home matches, they sit in different parts of Molineux. But at away matches the Punjabi Wolves are a noticeable, unified presence, travelling together, sitting together, banging their Indian drums as they approach grounds.

While the Premier League plays out to an ever more affluent, ever ageing, white audience that will eventually, inevitably, die off, clubs like Bradford have found the path to renewal.

In fact, it could be said that what I was looking at when I saw that young Bantams fan in the hijab was this: football’s future.

Read the entire article Why Bradford City fan in a hijab holds key to the game’s future

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One Comment on “Hijab and Football”

  1. This is so inspiring! You go girl! xo

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