sports hijabs for women

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Could a sports hijab boost number of Muslim women playing sport?

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What is a hijab? It is a veil or scarf that covers the head and neck. Many Muslim women and girls choose to wear it in public as a symbol of modesty. It can be worn in many different styles, many different colours and can even be a fashion statement.

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But the fabric is not always breathable, so anyone who wears one can get hot and sweaty when they play sport. There is also a safety issue as pins are often used to keep it in place.

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Why is a sports hijab different? The aim is to make exercise a more comfortable experience for women. British martial arts champion Ruqsana Begum has designed her own and hopes to bring it to the mass market. "They're made of Lycra, they're stretchy and don't need pins," she said. "A woman or girl would just pull it over her head and be ready to play sport. They're also moisture-resistant."

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Begum gained inspiration for her project by reading about Bahraini sprinter Ruqaya Al Ghasara, who wore a specially constructed hijab as she won 200m gold at the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar.

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So what do the stats tell us?

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While 30% of women play sport, that figure drops to 17% for Muslim females, according to Sport England's latest statistics. The graphic below shows Muslim women lag behind other faiths when it comes to once-a-week participation in sport.

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But is there more to it than clothing? Begum admits it is not just clothing that holds some Muslim women back. "It's also about educating people about the benefits and creating opportunities," she said. Muslim Women's Sports Foundation chair Rimla Akhtar agrees.

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"Clothing for sports is an important part of improving the experience," she said. "I wear a sports hijab and it is definitely more comfortable." However Akhtar feels there are a number of other issues to address including "the lack of knowledge and confidence in the sports industry" and the "provision of suitable opportunities and promoting a positive image of sport for all women".

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Sports Hijabs Nashata Middle East is represented by M F A R General Trading, based in Dubai, UAE (CR 206077). P.O Box 16228, Office No. M-31, New Al Safiyah Building Near Abu Hail Metro Station, Abu Hail Dubai, UAE

Summary: In the debate between hijab vs. non-hijab sporting attire, many people fail to see the “big deal”. Sportswear matters because it improves the experience of the athlete. Therefore, when their choice of competitive attire has a direct impact on their ability to compete, many Muslim women often fall into a dilemma: should she leave her hijab behind to pursue her career in sport or should she abandon her passion for pleasing her Creator?

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