|Rimla Akhtar was recently presented with the Kick it Out Grassroots award.|
Increasing the focus on minority ethnic women and girls' sport - UK
Rimla Akhtar, Chairperson of the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation on the challenges and achievements of her organisation.
Sport is and always has been a powerful means of uniting people and overcoming prejudices, particularly those against minority communities. It can come in many forms and not just the traditional ones. Women's sport has seen a massive development over the years and women and girls across the country are embracing less traditional sports and activities such as dance, basketball and yoga.
The Muslim Women's Sport Foundation (MWSF) was set up in 2001 with the main aim of providing equal opportunities and access to sport for Muslim women who are severely underrepresented across the board when it comes to sport.
The organisation also forms the British Muslim Women's Squad for the Women's Islamic Games which are held in Tehran every four years in an Olympics style tournament. I joined the futsal team in 2001, playing in the Games that year and then had the honour of captaining the team in 2005. When we returned from the Games in 2005, my friend and vice captain Ayesha Abdeen and I became Chair and Vice Chair of the MWSF, respectively. Over the past five years we've worked to increase the accessibility of sports facilities and opportunities to play and compete. More recently we've focused on sports education through providing coaching and refereeing courses and reaching out to schools to provide their girls with a positive experience of sport.
Through working closely with National Governing Bodies for sports and with other sporting organisations, such as Sporting Equals, we've been able to help increase the focus on minority ethnic women and girls' sport.
The work we do is not just for Muslim women but for all women, girls and men from ethnic minority communities. By realising the unique needs of people from these communities, there are great opportunities to refresh the sporting strategies for participation and to generate success in the long term whilst also bringing energy, creativity and dynamism to the way the strategies are implemented.
You can read the rest of the post from Rimla Akhtar's blog: http://blogs.culture.gov.uk/main/2011/01/post_6.html