“Hopefully one day we can make it a norm for Muslim girls to play sport and represent Australia,” Assmaah Helal said to The Australian.
Assmaah is a 28 year-old Sydneysider who loves soccer. She works full-time with United Football, a non-profit organization based at the University of NSW, promoting soccer in schools across western Sydney with refugees, new migrants and socially disadvantaged children. “It was great to see the support not only from the girls but from the directors of the school and their male peers,” she said.
In her spare time, Ms. Helal runs futsal tournaments through the GoActive initiative, targeting Muslim girls to enable them to take part in sport within a “competitive but culturally appropriate” environment.
The great thing about these tournaments is that there are the so called “interschool” tournaments between Islamic schools and state schools. These opportunities weren’t available to Assmaah, who joined a boys’ team, aged five, because there were no girls’ clubs in her area.
The experience of wearing the hijab on the field as a young girl had stolen some of her self-confidence. “But as I matured and really understood my religion, I used that as a tool to be proud of who I am,” Assmaah said.