09 Apr Mukadass breaks down stereotype by starring for school team in her hijab
The teenager, who is one of her school’s star basketball players, has become a role model for other Muslim girls – inspiring them to put aside their cultural inhibitions and get involved in sport.
Mukadass, 17, helps run a weekly project for Muslim girls at Glasgow’s Hillhead High School, where they are coached in a variety of sports including basketball, netball and badminton.
The S6 student believes that, with the right encouragement and opportunities, female Muslim athletes could soon be standing atop the podium making sporting history.
Mukadass’s selflessness and determination to change attitudes has earned her a Sunday Mail Young Scot nomination in the Equality And Diversity category.
The schoolgirl, who helped her basketball team reach the final of the 2018 Glasgow Schools’ Cup, said: “Muslim women haven’t been given the opportunity to become great athletes. There could be the next Andy Murray or Michael Jordan from our community out there but you would never know.
“Sport gives Muslim girls the chance to grow and flourish. All we need to do is break down the barriers.
“I think some are afraid of what their parents might think because, traditionally and culturally, sport is not something young Muslim girls do or are expected to do. So many good things come from sport and it is a real shame that some young people have felt they cannot participate due to their faith or religion.
“For me, my culture and sport go hand in hand. There are lots of sports young Muslim women can do without having to be disrespectful to our customs. Basketball is just one of them.”
Mukadass, who also helps younger pupils with their reading, added: “I play basketball in my hijab and cover my arms and legs so I am not going against my culture in any way. Last year, basketball’s governing body FIBA lifted the ban on headscarves for female professional athletes, acknowledging it causes no obstruction in the sport.
“Nike have just brought out a pro hijab for female competitors. I haven’t got one yet but I’m thinking about it. If the big sports companies are moving with the times, then so should we.”
Mukadass, who has won several medals with her school team, said: “I started to play basketball when I was in primary six and then, when I got to high school, I started to take it really seriously. Before the girls’ team was formed in third year, I trained with boys.
“We were playing a team from England a while back. I was the only girl wearing a head scarf and afterwards the visiting headteacher came over and said, ‘Wow, how is this possible? You wouldn’t see that happening in England. I wish it would.
“Not long after, the PE department decided to set up the Muslim Girls’ Sport Project and I’ve been involved with it ever since.”
The sessions, which are on every Tuesday morning before school, was given funding from Children In Need.
Mukadass, who hopes to study maths at university next year, said: “I went round all the assemblies encouraging girls to come along. It has proved really popular.
“We do six-week blocks in sports including basketball, netball and badminton.
“We went to Blairvadach Outdoor Centre in Helensburgh for a week in June. We did kayaking, canoeing and orienteering, activities Muslim girls would usually never be involved in. It was fab.
“I’ve been shortlisted for a place on the Young People’s Sport Panel. I really hope I get a place so I can give young Muslims a voice – sport scotland have the knowledge and knowhow to make positive changes.”
She added: “I’m lucky to go to a really sporty school but I would love projects like we have to be rolled out across Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.
“Even though I have to leave school next year and go to uni, I’m hoping to stay involved and expand it if I can. It’s got so much potential.”
As if inspiring people in school isn’t enough, Mukadass also volunteers once a week at Movement Park – a Glasgow-based charity who use sport and movement-based activities to enhance the lives of their community.
She said: “Sport is a great way of bringing people of all abilities and ethnicities together. I help out with the street dance and judo. It’s great fun.”
Despite everything she has done for the community, modest Mukadass was shocked to hear of her Sunday Mail Young Scot award nomination.
She said: “Are you serious? I’m very self-critical and am both shocked and delighted. Hopefully, my story will inspire other young Muslim girls to take a chance on sport.”
Mukadass was nominated by her PE teacher Jack Richardson. He said: “Mukadass is a fantastic advocate and role model for the Muslim girls in Hillhead High School and our local community and has worked tirelessly to promote diversity, inclusion and equality. She’s attempting to break down cultural barriers.
“She is an incredible girl who is destined for great things and everyone at the school is very proud of her.”
Young Hero – sponsored by Co-op Food
Community – sponsored by the Scottish Government
Unsung Hero – sponsored by Solace Scotland
Year of Young People 2018 Champion of the Year
Excellence in Education – sponsored by University of St Andrews
Enhancing Education – sponsored by Skills Development Scotland
Sporting – sponsored by sportscotland
Health and Wellbeing – sponsored by Active Scotland Division
Equality and Diversity – sponsored by Standard Life Aberdeen
The Arts – sponsored by Creative Scotland
Entertainment – sponsored by Scottish Citylink
Environment – sponsored by QMS
Enterprise – sponsored by HSBC
If you know an inspirational young person like Mukadass, nominate them for a Sunday Mail Young Scot Award here.