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University in London introduces sports hijab to spur Muslim students' participation
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University in London introduces sports hijab to spur Muslim students' participation

University in London introduces sports hijab to spur Muslim students' participation
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Faith Al Saad , Brunel University. Pic: Brunel University London

 

With its emblem stitched onto a sports hijab, Brunel University, London, hopes to counter the traditionally low participation in sports amongst young Muslim women.

Ranjeet Rathore is President of the Union of Brunel Students and has been pushing for the introduction of the sports hijab. In a post on Union of Burnel Students, “Brunel is one of only four UK universities to offer a free sports programme, and we noticed that there was a gap in female sports participation.”

He continued: “When we narrowed it down, we found the main gap to be in BAME female sports participation—specifically, we found there to be a barrier to Muslim women taking part in team sports. Of course, they were participating in sports on their own and in private, but they weren’t really going out to competitions or using sport as a social tool to get involved in activities.”

The hijabs are made with material designed specifically for keeping the wearer cool while protecting the wearer’s modesty. “The new hijab is made of really light, high-quality material which is light on the head and contains small pores which allows the skin to breathe more easily,” said Rathore.

“I genuinely think it’s a lifesaver,” said Faith Al Saad, a business management student and fitness enthusiast. “It’s really lightweight, really easy to wear, really comfortable; it feels like you’re wearing nothing on your head, which is amazing, especially when doing sports.”

Faith believes that sports hijabs will encourage more Muslim women to participate in sports activities. A 2017 study by Sports England reported that only 18 per cent of Muslim women participate in regular sports, against 30 per cent of the UK’s female population as a whole.

Other educational institutions are expected to copy the idea. Rathore added, “There are now other universities that want to partner with us, who want to take samples off us, who want to do their own hijab, which is great news.”

Initially, the hijab will be available in three sizes and come in “Brunel Blue”, although there are hopes to introduce a broader range of colours in the future. It’ll initially cost £15, which is 40 per cent cheaper than the sports hijab launched by Nike in late 2017.


(Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@refinitiv.com)

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