British-Pakistani woman Haseeba Abdullah has been named as a ‘Hometown Hero’ for the Commonwealth Games that are set to take place in Birmingham in 2022. She has broken barriers by becoming England’s first-ever hijabi boxing coach.
An ambassador for women’s sport, Haseeba coaches women at the Windmill Boxing Gym in Smethwick. Since a very young age, she has had a passion for boxing. However, at the time, it was just an ‘after school’ activity for her.
Haseeba thinks that although still many families do not approve of women taking part in sports, things are changing. People are opening their minds to the idea and have become less reluctant towards it. But for her, things were different, she always had the full support of her parents.
“My family is my biggest support….My brothers, who I actually coach alongside, are an amazing team”, said Haseeba.
At one point, Abdullah really wanted to compete in sports but due to hijab, was not able to, because hijab was not allowed by boxing associations. As she came from a conventional Muslim, Pakistani family, she could not wear the boxing kit either.
But, the rules about the dress code were changed by International Boxing Association (AIBA) in 2019. Now, women can wear full sleeves, wear hijab and cover their legs.
Abdullah has played a fundamental part in making the sport inclusive. She helped change the dress code rules, so more women could enjoy the sport that she so dearly loves.
Deciding to coach was her decision so she can stay in the sport as she could not compete. Being named a ‘Hometown Hero’ has touched her and she is excited to see her photo everywhere.
Haseeba said that the Commonwealth Games will inspire more girls to get involved in the sport, as it is happening in their hometown.
“Other boxing clubs and coaches are also trying to create women-only spaces for their local areas. So, boxing is on the rise, definitely”, she said.
What are your views on this? Share in the comments bar below.