You might have heard in the last year or two sportswear giants like Nike were making controversial waves by releasing the first forward-thinking, breathable sports hijabs for female Muslim athletes.
The special hijabs, though innovative and a positive step forward in terms of inclusivity in sport, came with a fairly steep price tag.
That’s why Brunel University have been praised for the new addition to their university sports kit - the ‘Brunel Blue’ sports hijab, in two sizes. And at £15 a pop, they’re almost 40% cheaper than the kit sold by Nike.
The initiative was driven by the Union of Students in response to a 2017 Sport England study, which found that only 18% of Muslim women were involved or participating in sport, far lower than the 30% participation across the female population as a whole.
The traditional cotton hijab, designed to cover the hair and neck of the wearer is not designed for high intensity activities - when exercising it can be heavy, non-breathable and, well, hot.
Not exactly ideal kit for your average athlete.
Brunel’s sport hijab though is made with the athlete’s comfort in mind, “keeping the wearer cool while also respecting their religious beliefs.”
Faith Al Saad, a Business Management student at Brunel University was interviewed by the Independent for her thoughts on the new tech. She was “100% confident” that the hijab would encourage more female Muslims to participate in sport, without discomfort or the isolation of exercising alone.
“It’s great; really lightweight, really easy to wear, really comfortable,” Faith said, “it feels like you’re wearing nothing on your head which is amazing, especially when doing sports …The traditional hijab is basically a cloth you wrap around your head and then pin down. You can’t really run in it, it’ll literally fly off. The pins come out and it falls off – it’s not comfortable.”
The new freedom granted by Brunel’s sport hijab allows young Muslim women to get involved in the social side of sport, joining teams and classes without having to worry about the barriers facing them. Which we think is pretty awesome.
Ranjeet Rahoore, President of the Union of Students reported that other universities are getting interested in what they’ve created, asking for partnerships and samples, and wanting to create their own sport hijabs for their uni kit.
Interested in sport inclusivity? Check out our interview with Kaoutar Hannach to hear all about her journey to become a personal trainer, and her #EvolvewithK campaign.
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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