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Sports hijabs welcomed

Muslim girls attending Winnipeg School Division schools have found a new game-changer when it comes to participating in phys. ed. classes and team sports.

Students in multiple WSD schools have started wearing a recently-developed sports hijab to participate in sports activities. The sports hijabs, manufactured mainly by Nike, offer a versatile, temperature-regulating alternative to the traditional hijab students wear as part of the culture and religion.

 “Our regular hijabs are heavier, these are lighter and you can run with them,” said student Masna Osman.

Masna and her fellow Muslim General Wolfe students said the simpler design meant they no longer had to worry about their hijabs unraveling during sports activities.

 “It’s hard to play well if our hijabs can slip,” she said.

Hijabs are being seen more frequently in mainstream media. American fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, wore a hijab to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and even had a Barbie-doll designed after her, complete with hijab. General Wolfe students point to famous Muslim women such as Somali model Halima Aden, who are continuing to promote mainstream acceptance of religious headcoverings.

Student Ayan Abdi Sheikhnoor said even some of the other, non-Muslim students have shown an interest in the hijabs.

“They say ‘that’s cool, where did you get that?’” she said. “They want one too.”

General Wolfe EAL teacher Anita Riedl said the hijabs have been a welcome addition for an athletic group of students.

“Many of our Muslim girls are involved in soccer, wrestling, basketball, volleyball and other team sports,” she said.

Religious head-coverings haven’t always been as openly accepted; for example, international soccer organizing body FIFA had banned any religious headcoverings, such as hijabs and turbans, before officially allowing them permanently in 2014. FIFA made the switch following a two-year trial run that began in 2012.

Ms. Riedl, who works with students from countries and cultures all over the world, said being able to wear a hijab in sports is more than just a comfort issue.

“Really, it’s all about respecting and recognizing the human rights of everyone.”


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