Embodied faith: Islam, religious freedom and educational practices in physical education

Tansin Benn, Symeon Dagkas & Haifaa Jawad
Sport, Education and Society: Volume 16, Issue 1, 2011


The growing incidence of withdrawal of Muslim girls from physical education prompted this study into tensions between religious freedom and educational practices. It was located in a city in the West Midlands of England. Data on experiences, issues, concerns and solutions related to participation of Muslim girls in physical education were collected by a team of eight researchers including Islamic studies and physical education subject specialists, city advisors and teachers. Methods used were: eight in-depth case studies across primary, secondary and Muslim state schools including interviews with 19 head teachers and teachers (two were Muslim), focus-group interviews with 109 pupils and 32 parents. In addition, four focus-group interviews were held with 36 young people in community/supplementary schools for Muslim communities. All city schools (402) and 12 community providers received questionnaires, 50 were returned. Consultations were held with key national associations including the Muslim Council of Britain and the National Subject Association for Physical Education. Empirical analysis is reported elsewhere. During the experience of conducting the study four problem areas emerged that required attention to effectively address tensions between religious freedom and educational practices in physical education: bridging the gap between research and educational practicethe concept of embodied faith;the significance of context—physical education and religion in England; and finally widening researchers' frames of reference to include intersectionality and interdisciplinary approaches. The discussion exposes the complexity of pursuing social justice in a democratic society that embraces people of multiple ethnicities and religions. The paper concludes by exploring ways in which theoretical constructs increase understanding and can influence policy and practice.

  • Keywords: Islam, 
  • Muslim girls, 
  • Embodied faith, 
  • Physical education, 
  • Sport pedagogy
Source: http://0-www.tandfonline.com.mercury.concordia.ca/doi/abs/10.1080/13573322.2011.531959   

Turkish Volleyball Player Verbally And Physically Attacked in Istanbul Bus‏ for Wearing Shorts

Nineteen-year-old Turkish volleyball player, Nurcan İbrahimoğlu, has confessed that she was verbally and physically attacked in Istanbul last July 28th inside a bus because she was wearing basketball shorts. Following this, on 13th of August, A group of female volleyball players are set to board a public bus wearing shorts to protest an assault on their colleague, daily Hürriyet reported on its website.
The protesters organized on social media and are going to meet at Kadıköy docks in Istanbul at 2 p.m. on Saturday to cross to Beşiktaş on the European side of the via ferry and board the 42M public bus, the same route on which İbrahimoğlu was assaulted.
 Turkish Player Gets Punched

Fencer With Headscarf Is a Cut Above the Rest

Associated Press
When Ibtijhaj was 13, her mother drove past the local high school and saw fencers in the cafeteria who were covered from head to toe. Her mother turned to her and said, "I don't know what that is, but when you get to high school, you're doing it."
But when she wears a hijab in a sporting arena, it often has the opposite effect. The New Jersey native is currently ranked 11th in the world in women's sabre, a discipline of fencing. Only one American ranks higher: Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic and world champion. Both women will compete this weekend at a World Cup fencing event at the New York Athletic Club to earn points toward qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee do not track athletes' religion, but if Muhammad makes the Olympic team, she would likely be the first practicing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. at the Games.
"You feel the pride. Muslim women are struggling around the world. She's not on the front lines but when she stands up there, she's making her mark for them, for freedom, to have their voices heard."
When she competes, photographers often zoom in on the name Muhammad on the back of her fencing jacket. Her mother, Denise, recently saw such a photo and said, "I realized: my God, she's representing all of us.
To make the ultra-selective squad—a maximum of two women per country will compete in sabre in London—Muhammad has been training 30 hours per week at the Fencers Club on West 28th Street in Manhattan and another three to four hours a week with a conditioning coach near her home In Maplewood, N.J.
"I'm one of these people with tunnel vision," said Muhammad, 25. "I'm convinced that I can do anything with enough practice and enough work."

Wall Street Journal

Playing sports was a given for the third of five children growing up in an athletic household, but Muhammad always wore long clothing under her volleyball and softball uniforms to conform with Islam's emphasis on modesty.
Then, one day at practice, "Out of this mild young lady came a roar," said her Columbia High School fencing coach, Frank Mustilli. "She got hit, got mad, and under that calm façade was a very aggressive individual."
At 16, she dropped epée for the lightning-quick sabre discipline, which targets everything above the waist (except hands) and allows scoring with the edge of the blade as well as the tip.
As team captain, Muhammad helped her high school win two New Jersey state team titles. Later, her youngest sister, Faizah, became a two-time state individual champion in sabre. (Faizah, 19, will also compete at the New York World Cup.)
At Duke University, Muhammad was a three-time All-America and graduated in 2007 with a double major in international relations and African-American studies (and a minor in Arabic).
Two years later, she began to work with the 2000 U.S. Olympian Akhi Spencer-El in Manhattan.
"It completely changed my fencing," she said. "This is the first time I've ever been taught to fence tactically."
In 2009, Muhammad won the U.S. national title. A year later, she made her first quarterfinal at a World Cup event (losing to Zagunis, 15-8, in Brooklyn, N.Y.). And in November 2010, Muhammad finished 14th in her world championship debut in Paris. All the while, observing her Muslim faith.
Wall Street Journal
Every day, Muhammad prays five times. The fourth prayer, Maghrib, usually coincides with training so she will say it at home later, or pray in a utility room.
Last year, during the holy month of Ramadan when eating and drinking are prohibited from sun-up to sundown, Muhammad woke up at 90-minute intervals in the middle of the night to hydrate during a high-altitude training camp in Colorado Springs. (In 2012, the entire London Olympics will occur within Ramadan.)
But what bothers Muhammad's mother most is the fencing etiquette that entails shaking hands with male referees and seeing her daughter travel without a male guardian.
At airports, fencers are always scrutinized because they carry on bulbous facemasks, metallic jackets and electrical wires. A hijab adds to the questioning. In Belgium this month, Muhammad was told to leave the airport if she did not remove her headscarf.
Her father Eugene, a retired cop, taught her, "The more you [protest], the more you have to take off." Diplomacy eventually prevailed. Usually, Muhammad speaks her mind. She used to be an emotional fencer. Now she is more controlled, but retains her trademark feistiness.
"On the strip, she'll fight for every single touch and not budge," Zagunis said.
But ultimately the referee decides who scored the first touch and, early on, Muhammad sometimes wondered if her minority status affected the outcome of her matches. If so, she figured it had more to do with being African-American than Muslim.
"I have a hard time imagining someone would treat me different based on my faith," she said. "So when I come across anyone being rude to me or anything of that nature, I attribute it to race. I guess that's my first instinct."
Six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook told her, "You cannot allow 'because I'm Muslim' or 'because I'm black' into play in fencing. The minute you put those in, you've lost."
"I have to remember my purpose," she said.
Very few Muslim women have earned Olympic medals since Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco ran to victory in the 400-meter hurdles in 1984 wearing shorts and a tank top. Muhammad hopes to add to that in hijab.
"I'd love for other minority women and religious minorities [in the U.S.] to believe they can excel in something outside the norm—not just sports, anything where they're breaking the barrier," she said, "and not be deterred by what the image is just because they fall outside that box."

Gender constructions and negotiations in physical education: case studies

Sport, Education and Society, Vol. 16, Issue 5, 2011


In Denmark as in other European countries, many girls, and especially Muslim girls, seem to lose interest in physical activities and sport with increasing age. However, in a Danish context, little is known about the reasons why girls drop out of sport and which role physical education (PE) plays in this process. In this article we present results of a qualitative study on gendered discourses and doing gender in a PE class at a Danish high school. Drawing on constructivist and post-structuralist approaches to gender and ethnicity, we explore the different opportunities of girls in PE based on in-depth interviews and video observations. Three case studies of three girls are the focus of this article: Nanna, the Danish ‘athletic girl’ who found a balance between (en)acting femininity and presenting herself as a competent athlete; Iram, the ‘Muslim girl’ whose position as a Muslim causes her to hide her sporting abilities and Ida, the Danish ‘normal girl’ who re-interprets PE and adapts it to her needs. These three girls act in and react to a discourse that emphasises competitive sport and is orientated towards male sport tastes and sport practices. The results of this study indicate that PE, with its focus on games and performances, meets the requirements and expectations of many boys but contributes to the decrease in sporting interests and activities among numerous girls.

Keywords: Physical education; Gender; Denmark; Muslim girls; Ball games; Poststructuralism; Sport discourses; Drop out; Sport participation; Femininity; Intersectionalit
Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13573322.2011.601145 


18 women graduate as futsal referees

By Ayesha Abdeen
The Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF) in partnership with the FA, Kick it Out and the Asian & Muslim Women and Girls group hosted the UK’s first female only level one Futsal refereeing course on July 24. Eighteen women of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds participated in the course held in London which was specially designed to cater to religious and cultural sensitivities.
The course, led by Lorraine Deschamps, one of only two female level four qualified referee tutors in the UK, is normally held over two days. However, following consultation with the MWSF, it was redesigned to take place over a single day and is an example of one of the many strategies being implemented by the FA showing their ongoing commitment to increasing the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) women involved in football.
Commenting on the day Deschamps said, “I am so impressed by the level of preparation, commitment and attention I got from the group…It was always going to be a huge challenge – getting across the sheer volume of knowledge and skills required in the very short time frame, but with their attitude and application, the ladies made it an extremely productive and enjoyable day. They did all of their pre-session reading, and all participated fully in both the classroom and the practical sessions, as I had asked them to. I couldn’t have asked for a better group – the structure worked well because they worked with me to make it work.”
Chair of the MWSF and member of the FA Race Equality Advisory Group (REAG), Rimla Akhtar, added, “Eighteen female referees is totally unheard of, yet to have so many women from the Muslim community making this event so successful was a delight to see. Every woman on this course is now going to make a difference to the football community here in the UK and, hopefully, beyond by taking their newly acquired skills back to their local communities and being an inspiration to those around them.”
Later this year on October 16 the MWSF together with its partners will be hosting their annual women’s only Futsal Festival tournament with an anticipated sixteen community teams participating. With an event of such large scale, the newly qualified female referees are most welcomed and no one is more pleased than Lily Frederick, Project Co-ordinator for the MWSF. “Up until this course there were only four FA affiliated female futsal referees in the country. This made it very difficult for us to organise FA sanctioned competitions. However, the success of this course now means there are a further eighteen qualified women we can call upon enabling our Futsal Festival to be the best and biggest ever held.”
Plans to hold another female only futsal refereeing course in Birmingham in September are currently being discussed. Ladies wishing to participate should contact Lily Frederick on             020 8427 0873       or email lily.frederick@mwsf.org.uk to register their interest. For further information about the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation visit www.mwsf.org.uk


RBS Sport for You: a worthwhile goal for the girls

By Gareth A Davies

RBS Sport for You: a worthwhile job for the girls -Samantha Harding and the women of Chalkhill Wanderers FC show off their fancy footwork
Tackling the issue: Samantha Harding and the women of Chalkhill Wanderers FC show off their fancy footwork  Photo: Philip Hollis

Given that many of these women are Somali in origin, some asylum seekers, or the children of those who fled that African country seeking sanctuary, this development comes with its own set of complications.
The club was this month awarded an RBS Sport for You grant of £1,000, and, backed by sports project officers from the Metropolitan Housing Trust, they are attempting to empower themselves and their community through sport.
When it involves Muslim women, there may be boundaries to cross – in dress code for sports, for example, or taking part in public places.
And turning out on a football pitch could be a step into the unknown.
Chalkhill Estate, in Brent, is made up of more than one thousand properties, mainly houses rather than high–rise flats, and sits within the Barnhill ward. Many residents are Muslim. Anissa Nahili, chair of Al–Bahdja Community Group, explains about the mix of women who want to become the "new" team within the already established Chalkhill Wanderers Football Club: "Teenage girls can be very selfconscious, and this prevents them from taking part in mixed activities. Also, in the
Muslim community, girls have very little opportunity to participate in sports due to religious or cultural restrictions. Yet girls–only sports are popular, and of great benefit to the participants."
Chalkhill Wanderers FC provides a weekly football programme for participants from eight–year–olds to men's seniors. It has 60 members.
"Seventy per cent of these participants are asylum seekers and these sessions help them to adapt – culturally and in terms of the language barrier – into the local community via football," says Samantha Harding, a sports project officer with Metropolitan Housing Trust London (MHT London).
In partnership with MHT London, Chalkhill Wanderers provides football-inspired training to young people up to the age of 25: three members of the men's team have already successfully completed the Level 1 FA coaching course, helping to sustain the project long term.
According to Ms Harding, the hope is that by widening the club to women's and girls' football teams, "more community cohesion will be created across the board and across local cultures".
World champion boxer Amir Khan, a British Muslim whose parents are originally from Pakistan, agrees: "I think it's a great idea to encourage more Muslim women into team sports. It helps foster friendships and brings communities together. It can only be a good thing."
The Bike Shed, Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton Bike Shed is a community–based, voluntary organisation that promotes healthy lifestyles related to biking activities. "We repair and recycle bikes free of charge, accepting donations of old bikes," explained Joe Maggs.
"A number of youths come to The Bike Shed who enjoy biking but have restricted opportunity for adventurous active biking locally."
Under the instruction of staff, club members will make their own polo bikes – from recycled parts – and then train and play together in a local league.
"The grant will go towards tools, spares, bike polo equipment, safety equipment and kit for the team and the league," added Mr Maggs.
Special Sports Club, Leamington Spa
The Special Sports Club, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, allows children with Down's syndrome and their siblings – from Warwickshire, Coventry, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire – to enjoy a range of sporting activities. "There are no opportunities for our children to participate in sporting activities that meet their needs on a regular basis," explained Nicola Enoch.
"The children play multi sports which teach and encourage basic social skills, and more typical sports–related skills, such as throwing, catching, kicking and running. We are introducing mini–football sessions for the children, too."
The RBS Sport for You grant will ensure the group runs every fortnight for an entire year – even during the school holidays.
Sports–for–Youth CIC, Newcastle
The Sports–for–Youth CIC Saturday Project is aimed at young people living in the west end of Newcastle, covering Benwell and Scotswood, Elswick, Westgate and Wingrove wards.
"The young people living in these areas have limited opportunities to take part in these types of activity," says Mr Bee Adeyeba. "The main objectives of the football development sessions are to actively engage young people in positive activities that they enjoy to give them an opportunity not to get involved in anti–social behaviour.
"We are also keen to promote healthy lifestyles among our young people, and to increase social integration in a range of ethnic communities that live in the west end of Newcastle."
Roborough Cricket Club, Devon
Roborough Cricket Club amalgamated with Plymouth Civil Service CC in December 2010. The latter, having lost their ground in 2008, were forced to play their home games 28 miles outside the city, while Roborough was struggling to attract new players and volunteers.
"We want to develop a vibrant club in the north of Plymouth and start up a new Colts section which will be the lifeblood of the club for years to come," says David Bayliss. "The ground needs a lot of care and attention to make it attractive as a community facility. It has suffered from vandalism and a lack of maintenance, subsequently falling into a state of disrepair."
The RBS Sport for You grant of £1,000 will be used to help upgrade thepavilion, which needs new windows, new security shutters, a newkitchen, new flooring, new toilet facilities, and completeredecoration.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/amateur/8657037/RBS-Sport-for-You-a-worthwhile-goal-for-the-girls.html

Camden Panthers crowned champions of first ladies only Basketball league

By Ayesha Abdeen
The first season of the MWSF Exclusively Women’s Basketball League (EWBL) concluded on July 2 with the Camden Panthers crowned 2011 champions.
The five month competition which began in March this year is the first basketball league in the UK to take place in a completely female environment with female players, coaches, officials and spectators.
Organised by the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF), fifty women from six teams across London gathered on the first Saturday of every month in Wembley, North West London, to compete in monthly fixtures.
League Co-ordinator, Lily Frederick, said, “The EWBL has opened the world of competitive basketball to women who for whatever reason cannot access mainstream leagues. For many this is their first and only opportunity to participate in regular organised competition.”
Throughout the league the competition was exciting. From the first game to the last, each team played hard and put every effort into their fixtures. Spectators cheered and jeered, tempers flared...occasionally, referee decisions were called into question but overall the league was played in high spirits and good sports(wo)manship!
League champions, the Camden Panthers, showed their dominance from the very beginning winning every game with emphatic style. Ealing Phoenicians pipped Elite Youth to second place on points difference and the London Lionesses, a deaf basketball team, managed to squeeze past MWSF Ravens on the last day of fixtures, again on points difference to take forth place. MWSF Heat came in sixth.
Panthers team member, Natalie Payne, commented, “It has been a great opportunity for our players to meet other players and forge new friendships. We are extremely proud to have won the league this year and we will certainly be playing in the EWBL again next year. We are grateful to MWSF for organising the competition and only wish there could be more of such tournaments.”
For further information about the EWBL and other activities organised by the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation visit www.mwsf.org.uk or call 020 8427 0873.

Kevser Çevik from Turkey wins Gold Medal in European Youth Summer Olympic

Judo games at the 2011 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival was held from 26 to 29 July 2011. The competitions took place at the Of Arena in Trabzon, Turkey. Boys and girls born 1995/1996 or later participated at following 8 disciplines for boys and 7 for girls. Kevser Çevik (-57 kg) wins gold medal.