Muslim female basketball players made history today after months of petitioning the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to allow athletes to wear headgear for religious purposes.
The federation announced today that FIBA’s first-ever Mid-Term Congress unanimously ratified the FIBA Central Board’s decision for a new rule that will allow players to wear headgear as of Oct. 1, 2017. The decision came today after almost two and a half years since FIBA initiated a revision process of its ban on headgear.
In a statement FIBA said that the new rule means that headgear is allowed when: it is black or white, or the same dominant color as the team’s uniform.
Several Muslim women athletes welcomed the new decision with great enthusiasm. Speaking to Muslim Girl, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s first female Muslim basketball player, felt the decision was the result of endless efforts by organizations and media activists putting pressure on FIBA to lift the ban. “I honestly felt right after Nike released its Pro Hijab line that there would be a positive push,” Bilqis said.
Muslim British basketball player and coach Asma Elbadawi also expressed her excitement to Muslim Girl about this change of heart.
“Since basketball is one of the most popular sports right now, there is scope for Muslims to be seen in a different light and show their willingness to integrate into society. It also shows that FIBA understands how important it is for players to have the opportunity to play at a higher level,” Asma said.
But to Bilqis, FIBA’s understanding took a little bit too long that made her lose hope in ever being a professional basketball player.
Although she is genuinely happy for future generations of young Muslim women who will be able to pursue their basketball dreams, she grapples with mixed emotions thinking about her personal path.
“I honestly felt right after Nike released its Pro Hijab line that there would be a positive push,” Bilqis said.
“It has been three years since I played competitively and lived the life of a basketball player. I grieved when I couldn’t pursue a professional career and moved on. Now it is in my face and I don’t know how to go about the change. Being an athlete is a lifestyle. So much has changed in my life in three years,” said Bilqis. For the meantime, she said that she will enjoy the history that has been made for visible Muslim women who wear hijab as basketball players.
The new decision that allows Muslim women to wear hijab while competing in basketball will also let athletes from other religions wear different headgear such as turbans for Sikhs and yarmulkes for Jews.