Leader of Afghan women’s sport: Playing is political

By Sarah Odell and Lindsay Rico

Nasrin Arbabzadeh, the leader of the Afghan women’s sports delegation, has been actively working for years for the rights of Afghan women to complete in sports. In 2001, she traveled from city to city recruiting women to compete in the the Third Muslim Women Games. At the time, she told theMinneapolis Star-Tribune that she wore a burqa so as not to draw attention to her work. “My life would have been in danger if the Taliban had learned of my activities and my purpose,” she said.

During the opening ceremonies of those games, organizers staged a black out and many athletes wore black mourning clothing and carried candles as a sign of support for the 48 Afghan delegates. Their participation was a symbol of political resistance. “I’m competing here to denounce the Taliban’s uncivilized treatment of women in the name of Islam,” Salma Hosseini, tae kwan do silver medalist, announced at the time.

Last week, at the Fifth World Conference on Women & Sport in Sydney, Ababzadeh stood in a question and answer period, and sought insight into how to develop, support, and train female athletes in Afghanistan. “Does anybody know about the women in Afghanistan?” she asked. The hall was silent.

FGN spoke with Arbabzadeh about her work and the challenges for female athletes in her native country.

FGN: In Afghanistan, what kinds of sports do women compete in?

NA: They play football (Soccer), badminton, basketball, taekwondo, and volleyball. But it’s very hard for them. At first, their families are not happy and they make it difficult for the girls to play. But when these girls bring home medals and awards, then their parents are happy for them.

FGN: What are some of the challenges these girls and women experience?

NA: The difficulties don’t end with the family. Most of our athletes don’t have the right clothes, shoes, or food. And athletes who have become successful are often threatened. Sixty percent of people are happy with them, forty percent are not. People think they are bad girls because they have chosen to participate in athletics.

FGN:What is your role in women’s sports in Afganistan. Who has been important to your work?

NA: I am the first woman to start sports for girls in Afghanistan. I am so happy with Faezah Hashemi, the Iranian president of the Islamic Federation of Women Sport. She has helped lots of young women within the federation, regardless of what country they come from.

FGN: How did you first get girls involved in athletics?

NA: In 2001 I collected young girls who wanted to play sports brought them to the Muslim women games in Iran. The girls competed in volleyball, tae kwan doe, shooting, tennis, running, chess, and badminton. I paid for everything so my teams could go to this competition. The girls and their families were so happy, because in Afghanistan, there are no teams that allow women. But leaders in Afghanistan did not like what I was doing and I received threats, so [after the games] I went back to Iran.

FGN: Who was behind the threats? Why were you threatened?

NA: The Olympic manager. He did not have a lot of experience. He saw that I had experience and knowledge. I saw many things I wanted to change. I saw the disabled athletes had terrible equipment. I wanted to help them. I asked him why they did not have better equipment and he did not like that. He told my husband that if I had any more things to say about the Olympic management or problems, he would kill me.

Arbabzadeh now lives abroad, in Australia, and serves on the Women with Special Needs Committee for the Islamic Federation of Women Sport.

Source: http://fairgamenews.com/2010/05/leader-of-afghan-womens-sport-playing-is-political-and-potentially-life-threatening/


New Book On Shelves: "Muslim Women and Sport"

Edited by Tansin Benn, Gertrud Pfister, Haifaa Jawad.

  • Binding/Format: Hardback
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-49076-4
  • Publish Date: July 9th 2010
  • Imprint: Routledge
  • Pages: 304 pages

Examining the global experiences, challenges and achievements of Muslim women participating in physical activities and sport, this important new study makes a profound contribution to our understanding of both contemporary Islam and the complexity and diversity of women’s lives in the modern world.
The book presents an overview of current research into constructs of gender, the role of religion and the importance of situation, and looks closely at what Islam has to say about women’s participation in sport and what Muslim women have to say about their participation in sport. It highlights the challenges and opportunities for women in sport in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, utilising a series of extensive case-studies in various countries which invite the readers to conduct cross-cultural comparisons. Material on Iraq, Palestine and Bosnia and Herzegovina provides rare insights into the impact of war on sporting activities for women. The book also seeks to make important recommendations for improving access to sport for girls and women from Muslim communities.
Muslim Women and Sport confronts many deeply held stereotypes and crosses those commonly quoted boundaries between ‘Islam and the West’ and between ‘East and West’. It makes fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in the interrelationships between sport, religion, gender, culture and policy.
Introduction - Muslim Women and Sport Part 1: Underlying Contexts 1. The Values of Physical Activity, Sport and Physical Education in the Lives of Young Women 2. Islam, Women and Sport 3. Muslim Women and Sport in Diasporas: Theories, Discourses and Practices - Analyzing the Case of Denmark Part 2: National Perspectives 4. Women in Sports Leadership in Bahrain 5. "Balancing between the cultures …" – Sports and Physical Activities of Muslim Girls and Women in Germany 6. Physical Activities and Sport for Women in Iran 7. The Sultanate of Oman and the Position of Girls and Women in Physical 8. Women and Sport in Syria 9. Struggling for Empowerment - Sport Participation of Women and Girls in Turkey Part Three: Case Studies 10. Palestinian Women’s National Football Team Aims High – Case Study to Explore the Interaction of Religion, Culture, Politics and Sports 11. Challenges Facing South African Muslim Secondary School Girls’ Participation in Physical Activities, Physical Education and Sport. 12. Religion and the State – The Story of a Turkish Elite Athlete 13. A Case Study on United Arab Emirates: Women, Disability and Sport Part Four: Narratives 14. Experiences of War in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Effects on Physical Activities of Girls and Women 15. Women in Sport in North Africa: Voices of Moroccan Athletes 16. Womens’ Narratives of Sport and War in Iraq Conclusion


Turkey’s female cirit players on hunt for competition

Members of Turkey’s only all-female cirit team must compete against men due to the lack of other female athletes who play the equestrian sport.
The women of the Uşak Women’s Equestrian Sports Club’s cirit team recently finished a scrimmage match with a male cirit team as part of the Spring Festival in Uşak’s Ulubey district, held to benefit orphans and persons with disabilities. The match ended with a win for the men’s team. In a statement to the press following the match, Uşak Women’s Equestrian Sports Club Team Captain Aysun Yılmaz (29) said the lack of female competition is a major problem for her team.
Cirit is a sport played by teams on horseback, who attempt to hit each other with blunt-tipped wooden javelins. It came to Turkey from Central Asia and was popular among the Ottoman Empire’s cavalry.
Explaining that over the course of the past seven years, through competitions in various provinces, her team had proved their mettle in scrimmage matches, Yılmaz said: “We are the children of mothers and fathers who were cirit players. In each of our families, there is at least one other person who played or plays cirit. In the area we grew up in, horses were like part of our families. Eventually we asked, well why can’t women play cirit? And we came together seven years ago to do this.”

The first team of women cirit players was highly successful, Yılmaz explained, but soon ran into trouble. “The women that married stopped showing up for matches because their husbands didn’t give them permission to play. The team was constantly being reassembled. Right now, the club has seven athletes. The youngest female cirit player is 16 years old. We’re trying with the means at our disposal to bring this equestrian sport to prominence. We don’t all have horses; we ride the men’s team’s horses and train with them. From time to time, we participate in scrimmages like these. Our aim is to introduce cirit and make it loved,” she said.
Another of the team’s members, Seda Yıldırım (20), explained the difficulty they faced because of the lack of other women’s cirit teams in Turkey. The university student, who has been riding horses for 10 years, said: “It’s hard to play matches with men -- their arms are much stronger and they’re able to throw harder. We’re as good as they are on horseback, but the spears we throw don’t go as far; this makes it hard for us.”
Yıldırım expressed hope that rumors of women’s cirit teams assembling in other parts of Turkey will prove true. “I hope the number of women cirit players increases; then we’ll play with them. And I think that one day we will also beat the men,” she said.

Moroccan Female Soccer Players Fight Uphill Battle for Resources

In Moroccan society today female players who fought and won the right to play soccer have a new battle on their hands. They have a professional league, but they still lag far behindMorocco’s male players when it comes to the basics of the game- time, space and money.

Lisa Matuska reports from the Moroccan city of Casablanca that female football players today are entering the male-dominated field by the hundreds, and demanding a space to play.

Ambi soccer game

Saadia Salah is watching a local women’s football team- called Nassim- play a scrimmage. The team plays in Salah’s neighborhood of Sidi Moumen- a sprawling, low-income suburb of Casablanca.

ambi soccer game

A former player herself, Salah, 38, says when she played there were no girls teams. she would have to sneak out onto the field just to get in a few touches on the ball-

SALAH: the boys they would follow us throwing stones, when we would enter the field, they would climb the walls and throw rocks and we would stop playing, Then women wearing traditional clothing, they would peak over the wall and they would say, “come look come look,” they would call each other and just stare at us. We got embarrassed so we stopped. It was like they were kicking us out by just staring

Today many of the girls practicing here play in head scarves- wrapped extra tight, for sport. A group of boys huddles outside the fence, watching and criticizing almost every touch the girls make. Nassim is one of 24 teams inMorocco’s premier division for women’s football. The league began in 2004 and is run by the same federation as the men’s teams But Nassim’s coach Adil Farass says the women’s league is more disorganized.

FARASS: they told us this season there will be support but nothing has come, when we went to play Fqih Ben Salah we borrowed money for transport, today the referees came and we had to borrow money to pay them.

It’s difficult to compare the structure of men’s and women’s football inMorocco. Professional men’s football is supported by a youth structures like neighborhood teams, camps, and academies. Women’s football has no organizational youth structures. So when young girls want to play football, they have to join the boys in the streets.

JRAIDI: One day I was playing and Farass was with his boys team and he saw me play and came up to me and said, “you must play with my team, you play well and you have good skill” and from then on I was with him in Sidi Moumen.

Jraidi says now there are many more girls in the streets playing football.

JRAIDI: Now the problems are money, field, and the federation, we still haven’t gotten our stipend yet.

The stipend is small. Each women’s team gets 30 thousand dirham (that’s 4 thousand dollars) a year to cover costs like equipment, transportation and referees. If they have enough, the coaches try to give the girls extra money when they win. The men’s teams receive about twice that amount from the federation. Male players in the premier divisions typically have salaries that exceed what one girls’ team gets in a year.

Plus, the men’s teams get support from a well-established football industry- generating money from TV coverage, sponsorship and ticket sales. Girls’ teams in Morocco have looked for outside support, but few companies are lining up to sponsor them. Women’s games, which are free, don’t usually draw a crowd, let along a paying crowd.

Radio Mars show

Once a week on this daily sports radio show, Journalist Hassan Manyani covers women’s football - he interviews federation officials and coaches and people are calling in.

MANYANI: It’s the mentality around women and also it’s the federation which hardly manages to provide support or funds for the men’s leagues, so now there is a sort of awareness that it has to reorganize and develop women’s football but its coming, there is an awareness and this is already a good thing.

Officials from Morocco’s soccer federation did not make themselves available for this story, but Manyani predicts solutions will not come easily. One of the biggest obstacles is that most of these girls in the league are also still in high school. Men at their level are usually older, or don’t need to stay in school- for them football can be a job.

Soccer’s international regulating body, FIFA, held a symposium on women’s football three years ago. It said the next step to develop the sport is to have more women as referees, coaches and administrators.

BOUBIA: The Green Walker, This is my first team

Amel Boubia is a volunteer coach for the Nassim team.

BOUBIA: I wanted to play with Raja Ain Harouda but I stopped to practice football because I wanted to be a coach, I passed some course for football and now I coach team Nassim Hay Mohammadi.

She’s heard that this season the Moroccan federation is looking to give extra money for coach’s salaries for the women’s teams. But she’s skeptical. 37-year-old Boubia has an impressive resume in women’s sports: as a player and a coach she’s participated in women’s football camps all over Morocco. But Boubia says she still can’t find a salaried job in female sports. She uses herself as a cautionary tale.

BOUBIA: the girls must give importance for their study because the sport now is without salary and not job, you can practice sport only for your health and your feeling, not for a job.

Boubia also knows that as girls get older, more of them are pressured to leave the game by their families and society. And in her own job search now, she’s given up on Morocco- she’s practicing her English in hopes of finding a job outside the country. And that’s hard, because she sees something unique in the Nassim girls, and she’s like to continue to coach them.

BOUBIA: For the Nassim team, I think they have a good future because they’re all around the same age, they were born in 95, 94, 93 and they have potential, so hopefully they will do well.

Ambi sounds of Nassim game

On this morning Boubia watches as the team plays on a wet and rocky field. 18-year-old Ibtissam Jraidi is playing forward. While Jraidi’s playing, she isn't focused on the obstacles she’s overcome. She’s not thinking about advancing women's sport in a Muslim country, or giving confidence to young Moroccan girls. She says she’s here for another reason.

JRAIDI: Football, it’s mixed into my blood, I can’t spend a day without playing it.

And even the boys smirking behind the fence can’t argue with that one.

Source: http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/content.aspx?audioID=42009

Michael Kirby on Stereotypes and Sports

The former High Court judge Michael Kirby feels most comfortable in a suit and tie when he's out and about. He was therefore not too happy with the way he was treated at the hip TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference in Redfern. Speaking at the fifth conference of the International Working Group on Women and Sport at Olympic Park yesterday, Kirby (who also spoke witheringly of Channel Seven's ''pathetic and disgraceful'' treatment of David Campbell) got on to the subject of conquering stereotypes and gave his experience at TED the day before as an example of what he wanted to see abolished. He said of the TED concept: ''It's a very American idea that you've got to have these very intense young people who get together and they talk, but you are only allowed to talk for 15 minutes - which, of course, for a lawyer is an extremely difficult thing, to only speak for 15 minutes. I turned up dressed, as I've always dressed, in a suit and a tie. And they told me, 'You're not supposed to do that', and they said, 'This is breaching all the rules of TED', and they reprimanded me at the end of my speech, so I said, 'I'll bloody well turn up in whatever dress I like and we must end stereotypes'. This is one of the challenges [that] has to be faced in the area of women's sport, that is, stereotypes.'' Recent controversy in women's football over Muslim women wearing head scarves reminded sporting authorities that they needed to be respectful of the cultural needs of female Muslim athletes, Kirby said.


UAE Soccer shows status of Muslim Female Athletes

They only recently got a grass practice field. They've come under attack on their Facebook page, and some fear telling their relatives that during their spare time they play soccer.

Such are the troubles for the national women's team from the United Arab Emirates. And this is progress.

Recently, the UAE women scored their greatest triumph, making their first appearance in a major tournament. Playing live on national television - and in front of a boisterous crowd of several hundred men - the Gulf upstarts stunned reigning champion Jordan 1-0 in the West Asian Football Federation championship.

"It has made me so proud," said Alaa Ahmed, a 15-year-old midfielder who is one of the few players wearing a tightly drawn, black head scarf, leggings and long-sleeved shirt during matches. "Afterward, the other kids in school came up and asked for my autograph. They said I was a star. It's a great feeling."

The topsy-turvy journey of the UAE team is emblematic of the issues faced by female athletes across the Islamic world.

Helped by families moving to the cities, better education and increased government support, Muslim women from Indonesia to Morocco are taking up sports in small but growing numbers. They are forming soccer leagues in Turkey, boxing clubs in Afghanistan and rugby teams in Iran. Nearly 150 female athletes from 18 Muslim countries took part in the 2008 Beijing Games, a record and a fivefold increase from the 1988 Seoul Games, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Yet the growth comes in fits and starts, and is vulnerable to age-old cultural pressures, modern rules and varying player commitment.

Saudi Arabia, for instance, does not allow women to participate in the Olympics and the once-banned Kuwaiti soccer team was denounced on its return from the WAFF tournament by conservative lawmakers who want a ban on all international competitions. In Iraq, a women's wrestling club disbanded last year after receiving death threats from religious groups.

Then there is growing debate on the wearing of head scarves at sporting events. While rugby, volleyball and taekwondo federations allow them, FIFA has resisted lifting a ban - standing by rules designed for safety but seen by Muslims as discriminatory.

Last month, FIFA initially blocked the Iranian girls' soccer team from competing in this summer's inaugural Youth Olympics over their insistence on wearing head scarves - which some Muslims say protects the modesty of Islamic girls and women. FIFA allowed them back in this month after the team agreed to wear a cap that covers their hair.

"Despite the growth in participation rates, the biggest challenges remain legal prohibitions, social stigma and limited opportunity," said Meghan O. Mahoney, an expert on women's sports at Northeastern University's Sport in Society.

Formed in 2004 by a handful of young women in love with the game, the UAE team operated in name only for the first several years. Then in 2008, the group hired Australian Connie Selby, who instituted regular practices and games with opponents from other parts of the country and tours of Europe.

Their victory over Jordan in February raised the team's profile and turned many of the players into local celebrities.

But on a balmy night at the team's new practice field, a gift of the government located in the shadow of a men's soccer stadium, the limit of their newfound success was easy to see.

Selby, a 50-year-old former Australian national team captain, was running out of patience. She had spent the day gearing up for the intense passing drills and scrimmage. By the time practice was set to start, only Ahmed and another player had bothered to show up. Practice had to be scrapped.

"I've been getting text messages all day from players saying they can't come, they can't come," said a frustrated Selby, who before taking the UAE job coached in Australia and headed women's soccer in the Oceanian Football Confederation.

Retaining players - all of whom are in school or have day jobs as police officers, bankers and administrators - is a huge challenge. Compared to thousands of players to choose from in nations such as Australia or Japan, the UAE only has a pool of 20 who are trying to balance family and work demands with the team.

There is no UAE league to motivate them and games are rare. The next match is another regional tournament in August. Without a league, the team cannot qualify to play in Asian Football Confederation tournaments which could lead to a World Cup berth - a dream of Selby and many of the players.

"A lot of them see this as a job, rather than a love of the game," said Nadine Schtakleff, a 25-year-old banker whose family hails from Lebanon, and who looks a little like America's Mia Hamm with her ponytail and broad smile. She was typical of most of the players, who prefer T-shirt and shorts over the head scarf and long sweats.

"It takes a lot to be committed," she said. "It is new here and there are not a lot of people willing to step out and invest in the team."

And there is the conservative culture to confront. While Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, and his wife, Princess Haya, have championed women's sports and two of Mohammed's daughters took part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many Emiratis have their suspicions about Western sports.

They fear that women's soccer forces their women to wear revealing uniforms that will expose their bodies, a taboo in a country of 4.8 million people where the preferred dress is the black, cloak-like abaya and hijab.

As a result, the team has lost several players, including one who left after a relative saw her playing in the championship game without her headscarf.

The job of changing the Emirati mindset falls to Nada Yousef al-Hashimi, a vivacious Ministry of Economy official who took up swimming and track in school. When she is not trying to lure foreign investment into the country, al-Hashimi can be found at the team's practice watching protectively over the players she fondly calls "diamonds" and "stars."

Al-Hashimi insists she is not trying to change the culture as much as making the case that soccer is no threat to local traditions. She tirelessly promotes the team and has been known to engage critics who pop up on the team's Facebook page, which includes a lively discussion page debating the merits of women's soccer in the Middle East, dozens of team photos and links to YouTube videos. A few angry comments criticizing women's soccer as culturally inappropriate have been deleted, though most are respectful, said one of the page's creators, Abdul Razaq al-Kabi.

"We have to respect their ideas and we can do a lot to convince them by showing how the girls play, how they are part of a bigger community," al-Hashimi said.

The UAE players also have to contend with siblings and parents who feel soccer undermines family traditions dictating that a woman's place is in the home. Several spoke of long fights just to play, including one player who no longer talks to her father and a second forced to quit the team for a month after her parents were inundated by complaints from friends and relatives.

"I just told them I cannot survive without playing football," said Nayla Ibrahim, a 25-year-old police officer who is one of the team's goalkeepers. "I was so depressed that I didn't even want to go to work."

Ibrahim's parents reneged and let her return. But they did not attend the championship game for fear they would be seen overly supporting her.

"From the bottom of their hearts," Ibrahim said, "I know they wanted to come and watch me."

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/19/v-print/1636595/uae-soccer-shows-status-of-female.html#ixzz0oP68Mllx


Muslim Women and Physical Education in Initial Teacher Training

Although under-researched, there is some evidence to suggest that Muslim females can experience difficulties with traditional approaches to physical education. Based infigurational theory, this field study investigation enabled the author/researcher to examine the relational dynamics influencing institutional and physical education course developments as female Muslim students underwent a 4-year primary Initial Teacher Training Degree course at 'Greenacres' College, England. Interview, observation and diary data were collected, analysed and collated. Findings indicated a gradual unforeseen and unplanned process of negotiated accommodation as the management and staff responded to the expressed needs of the Muslim women whilst ensuring State requirements for teacher training were met. One outcome was a reciprocal shift, in attitude towards physical education amongst the Muslim students
JO - Sport, Education and Society
PB - Routledge
AU - Benn, Tansin
TI - Muslim Women and Physical Education in Initial Teacher Training
SN - 1357-3322
PY - 1996
VL - 1
IS - 1
SP - 5
EP - 21


Nawal el-Moutawakel, the first Arab Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work for women in sport and in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Moutawakel, a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, won the inaugural women's 400m hurdles event for Morocco at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Bachelors of Science in Physical Education, Iowa State University (United States of America)
Inspector at the Ministry of Youth and Sports (1989-1997); Secretary of State to the Minister of Social Affairs, responsible for Youth and Sport (1997-1998); Ministry of Youth and Sports (2007-2009)
Sports practised
Sports career
Moroccan Champion in 100 m, 200 m, 400 m hurdles (1977-1978), Arab Champion in 100 m, 200 m, 400 m hurdles; African Champion in 400 m hurdles (1983), USA Champion in 400 m hurdles (1984); Olympic Champion in 400 m hurdles at the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles (1984); gold medallist in 400 m hurdles at the Mediterranean Games in Casablanca (Morocco, 1983) and in Damascus (Syria, 1987); bronze medallist in 400 m hurdles at the World University Games in Kobe (Japan, 1985) then gold medallsit in Zagreb (then Yugoslavia, 1987)
Sports administration
Member then Vice-President of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission (1989-); National sprint and hurdles trainer (1990); Member of the NOC, Elite Commission (1992); Deputy National Technical Director of the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation (1993) then Vice-President (1997); Member of the African Amateur Athletics Confederation (1995-); Member of the IAAF Executive Bureau (1995); Member of the International Committee of the French-speaking Games (1997-2005); Member of the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (1998-); Member of the Board of the Arab Sports Confederation (1998-); Vice-President of the Moroccan Association for the Football World Cup 2006 (2000); Founder Member (2000) then Vice-Chair of the Laureus World Sports Academy (2004-); Member of the Council of the International Athletics Foundation (2001-); Founder Member and President of the Moroccan Sport and Development Association (2002-); Member of the FIFA Women’s Football Commission (2004) and of the Women’s Competitions’ Commission (FIFA) (2007); Chair of the NOC Women and Sport Commission (2005-2007); Member of the Jury and Technical Delegate at various national, continental and international competitions
Awards and distinctions
National Merit (Exceptional Order) awarded by King Hassan II of Morocco (1983); Knight of the Lion National Order awarded by President of Senegal Abdou Diouf (1998); Unicef Goodwill Ambassador (1999); Mérite National de l’Ordre de Commandeur awarded by King Mohammed VI of Morocco (2004); Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Tunisia (2005); “Lifetime Achievement” award from the Laureus association (2010)
IOC History
Member of the Executive board (2008-); Chairperson of the Evaluation Commission for the Games of the XXX Olympiad in 2012 (2004-2005); Chairperson of the Evaluation Commission of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in 2016 (2008-2009); Chairperson of the Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 (2010-); member of the following Commissions: Women and Sport (1995-2010), Doping (working group, 1998), “IOC 2000” (1999), Marketing (2000-2010), Nominations (2000-), IOC 2000 Reform Follow-up (2002), Coordination for the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in 2012 (2005-), International Relations (2008-)

IRAN: Girls soccer team must trade hijabs for hats to compete in Youth Olympics

An Iranian girls soccer team has reason to celebrate after the sport's world regulatory body amended its earlier ban on Islamic headscarves, which would have prevented them from competing in the first-ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore this summer.

The decision by the International Federation of Football Assn., known as FIFA, has inspired Iran's team, the deputy head of the country's football federation, Farideh Shojaei, told the Associated Press. "They are determined to practice more and more."

The new compromise ruling says that, although the girls cannot play wearing the headscarf, or hijab, they will be allowed to wear "a cap that covers their heads to the hairline but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck," according to a statement issued by FIFA.

The initial decision to ban all head coverings was based on a 2007 ruling that the hijab violated the federation's governing manual, which states that a player's "basic compulsory equipment" must not have any "political, religious or personal statements."

Following word in early April that the girls would not be allowed to compete in August in the Youth Olympics if they wore headscarves, the head of Iran's football federation, Ali Kaffashian, flew to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland to hammer out a compromise.

“We sent FIFA a sample of our new Islamic dress, and fortunately they accepted it," Abbas Torabian, the director of the International Relations Committee of the Iran Football Federation, told the Tehran Times. "They announced that there was no objection if the players covered their hair with hats.”

The new agreement, announced Monday, appeared to appease Iranian authorities, who cast the new decision as a victory for Muslim athletes.

The Youth Olympics is scheduled to take place in Singapore from Aug. 14 to 26 and include more than 3,000 young athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 from around the world.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/05/iran-girls-soccer-team-to-trade-hijabs-for-hats-for-youth-olympics-.html


Women race in rare track meet in Hamas-ruled Gaza

About 40 women in tracksuits and headscarves have competed in a rare track meet in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The athletes ran 100, 400 and 1,500 meters in Saturday's championship. Some raced barefoot and others waved to cheering spectators during their races. Runner Ghada al-Zamt came third in the 1,500 meters. She says women's athletics are not encouraged in Gaza. Participants in Saturday's meet included university students and amateur athletes. Gaza's Muslim rulers — and most residents — disapprove of women's sports because it can reveal their body shape. It is also difficult for athletes to compete internationally because Gaza's borders have been virtually sealed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover in 2007.

Palestinian girls take part in a race during a track meet for Gazan women at the Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, Saturday, May 8, 2010. The sporting event was co-sponsored by the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the UN in order to encourage Gazan women to do more sports. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Palestinian girls cheer for women athletes, not seen, during a track meet at Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, Saturday, May 8, 2010. The sporting event was co-sponsored by the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the UN in order to encourage Gazan women to do more sports. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

A Palestinian girl takes part in the long jump during a track meet at Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, Saturday, May 8, 2010. The sporting event was co-sponsored by the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the UN in order to encourage Gazan women to do more sports. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Source: The Associated Press

Muslim Women are Taking Part in Aqua-aerobic and Swimming Events

All these year’s Muslim females have faced the problem of finding an appropriate swimwear which adheres to the Koran, which requires a woman to cover everything except her face, hands and feet.

The swimwears available in the market were either not targeted for the Muslim women as they led to show of skin or were unpractical for swimming. To aptly describe how uncomfortable the swimwear designed for Muslimahs was I shall quote Aheda Zanetti who wrote to the National Geographic News stating “As an active Muslim girl, I found it difficult to participate in most sports, because of all the excess clothes we were wearing. And the veil very unpractical when playing sports”.

For a market that was not targeted by big market share holders like Nike scattering small companies took the initiative of designing something fruitful for Muslimahs. People like Zanetti, Oliver Momeni and Hasema saw a great potential and design need in the market of swimwear for Muslimahs. Zanetti, is the owner of Ahiida, an Australian company that designs women’s sportswear. Oliver Momeni started his venture of Bodykini in 2007, based in Spain and Hasema a Turkish company started designing a line of swimwear for men, women and kids. Among all these products the most admired and reviewed is “Bodykini”.

Surely, Oliver had the support and opinions of his Iranian family members and an experience of over 20 years in the family textile business. Before designing the final product “Bodykini”, Oliver conducted a lot of market research and held talks with many Muslim women. In the course of his time, he learned the important attributes targeted while designing the swimsuit. He designed Bodykini which is a complete blend of a swimsuit that looks great, designed for modest comfort, adheres to Islam’s tradition and most importantly lets women swim without any fear.

It does so by removing all the excess fabric that the previous swimwear provided like the veil, pants and skirts. Oliver incorporated every thing into 2 main piece of clothing: a shirt with a hijood that serves as a close-fitting headpiece, which firmly lays on the head without slipping and a pant. The fabric used is a high quality water-repellent fabric that is not only highly Chlorine resistant but also provides protection from ultraviolet rays. The advantage of using a Polyester material is that it has low water absorbency, dries fast and ensures complete stretch in all directions leading to comfortable swimming or aqua-sport.

The Bodykini comes in two colors to choose from and two unique features. The first feature is the two elastic bands that are attached at the inside of the pants that get buttoned to the inside of the suit, which prevent the suit from floating in case the swimmer performs a feet first dive. The second feature is the small pocket with a zipper in the pants; ideal for keeping small items like keys or money.

So now, with products like Bodykini both the problems namely: meeting the Islamic traditional requirements and availability of a comfortable swimming garment for women, are solved. Bodykini is available online at bodykini. com. Along with this Bodykini has been launched in the Middle East and is available in Dubai at Al Boom Marine retail stores or at the Dubai Ladies Club.

Now, Islamic women can remain more active and enjoy the aqua sports with the power of Bodykini. The Bodykini modest swimwear is becoming popular among not just the Muslim population but also among all those women who love to cover their bodies and prevent the tans while enjoying the relaxing water.

Having said all this, Oliver Momeni is not just being thanked by all Muslim women for introducing such a wonderful product in the market but the big players are looking forward to promote products like Bodykini which is showing a very good grip on the swimwear market. Taylor, of Azizah Magazine, says that

“In another 15 years there’s going to be a sizable Muslim consumer market and lots of demand”.

I think we’re where the Hispanic market was 20 years ago, and today the Hispanic market is a big consumer market. ” Further more, Arun Jain, a marketing professor at the University of Buffalo in New York State, agrees and states that given the growth potential of the Muslim community in the United States, major sportswear manufacturers could be missing out on an opportunity to break into an emerging market. Moreover, more than just the Muslim women the modern world women comprising of Christian, Jews and others don’t feel the need to show off their bodies and strive to be modest.

Source: http://www.aerobics-cardio.wealthyboys.com/muslim-women-are-taking-part-in-aqua-aerobic-and-swimming-events/