About Hijabi Ballers
Amreen Kadwa, 22, is the founder of Hijabi Ballers. She loves playing sports and staying active. Her primary involvement is with rugby, having played with her high school, Victoria Park CI and a summer club, Yeomen Lions RFC, in the last 7 years in Toronto. Amreen believes that wearing hijab while playing sports has given her adversity, confidence and strength on and off the field. For many women, wearing modest clothing along with a headscarf while taking part in sports is a physical and social challenge to overcome and those that dominate this experience deserve recognition. Along with this recognition, emerge role models that younger Muslim women who want to pursue athletics need: someone to look up to, someone they can see challenging traditional viewpoints while representing their faith.
Amreen's inspiration to create this initiative comes from her own experiences as an athlete and an interest in creating opportunities for Muslim women, especially those from minority groups, to grow and realize their social and physical potential. Muslim women, like women of any other faith or race, have extraordinary abilities and talents. However, their abilities and accomplishments often get overlooked due to the piece of clothing covering their hair. Amreen was often told that rugby was not to be played by women who wear hijab, that women who looked like her were better off in school or at home. Others saw barriers for her which were not there. However, she knew that her faith would not be weakened by her playing sports. Growing up in Toronto has given her a chance to discover her passion and strengths in relation to rugby and have an opportunity to pursue it, while wearing the hijab. Being Canadian should mean that we recognize our differences, celebrate it, and optimize on it to move forward and grow as individuals and as a society.
Approximately 84% of the 1.3 million Canadian Muslims say that that being Muslim is very important to their identity (2011 National Household Survey). Preserving this identity should not mean that women and girls are deprived of opportunities to be part of their communities, particularly by taking part in sports and athletics. Involvement in sports and recreational activities is key to integration and social and economic participation, especially among newcomers. Let's acknowledge the fact that more than half of the Muslim women in Canada wear hijab or niqab in public (Survey of Muslims in Canada, 2016). It would be too many opportunities wasted, too much talent not recognized if these women were discouraged from pursuing sports and athletics.
A consequent goal of the Hijabi Ballers project is to allow the greater non-Muslim community, to recognize Muslim women as individuals who are strong, inspirational community members and to acknowledge their involvement as athletes.
Please see the program page to learn more about how you can get involved. Thank you for being a part of this revolutionary project.