RASHIDA SALLOO – Batley, Yorkshire
Rashida is a mum of three from Batley. As a young girl Rashida's engagement with sport came during her school days yet Rashida recognises some of the cultural barriers women and girls may face as she did.
Rashida tell us more about her journey through sport as a British Asian female and how we can encourage and support local communities through the ethos of This Girl Can!
As a young Asian girl with a keen interest in sport, Rashida recalls her frustrations and lack of family support
“I think it was more because it's not been done before. They didn't see any Asian girls actually playing sport so for them it was a bit daunting to have a girl who was interested in sport. It was more because they didn't think it was important enough like why do you want to do it?”
Rashida re-connected with a sport she had favoured from her school years throughout her twenties
“So I turned up for a Sunday social session at Batley Sport centre… I wasn't very good … and I remember thinking 'oh god everyone must be hoping I don't get partnered up with her she's going to be awful' but I enjoyed the experience and something kept me going.”
Although Rashida was aware of being the only Asian female player at the club and tournaments this didn't discourage her from playing the game
“The people around me were really supportive… I can't say I felt any form of racism or anything but I know from working with loads of girls now that there is a bit of a self-confidence issue. I think people find it easier to engage in an environment where there are people who are similar to you, or it will keep you in your shell sort of thing.”
Changing careers from an Industrial Chemist to Sports coach was a new and fearless move
“I just thought you know what I'm just going to do this (coaching) course and see where it takes me. There was no female only courses, there was no push to get women into coaching so I kind of did a lot of courses where I was the only female.”
Supporting women and girls from communities during the initial stage of following a coaching course has real impact
“Maybe I could have done with a mentor myself. So now I'm at a stage where I'm mentoring people and encouraging them. From my point of view, I understand the barriers they are going through because I've come through that myself. What's interesting is that I think a lot of Muslim women don't identify themselves as coaches, it's like they can't identify with that world.”
Rashida is a real inspiration in her work and is a visual role model to show other BAME girls and women that exercising, coaching or playing sport can be enjoyed by them too
“A lot of Muslim women want a female coach, I think it helps you've actually got somebody who looks like you and is from the same location as yourself. I think it makes them think 'if she's doing that I can do something similar too.”
As a community coach Rashida understands sport is not what drives attendance
“I think a lot of people are coming to the sessions not necessarily for the sport but the social aspect. That's quite important to me as a community coach . . .I don't necessarily think oh I need to teach somebody how to score the most technically perfect basketball hoop!”
What does sport mean to Rashida?
“It has influenced my career choice with setting up my own enterprise 'Ready Steady Active', working in sports development and as a coach to encourage more people to take part. And if that wasn't enough it was through sport - namely the great game of tennis that I met my partner and now husband with whom I have a young family with.”
SHABANA GOVANI SHARES HER STORY
Before moving to the UK, Shabana lived in Sweden where as a young girl she recalls her passion for sport however due to social perception playing sport became more of a challenge.
“When I was in school I was very good at sport and keen on playing but when I started wearing a head scarf around 10 or 11 years old, the teachers were not sure if I should be playing. I was young, I couldn't communicate to say to them look my religion hasn't said no to sports so I kept quiet.”
One way Shabana could enjoy some activity was through cycling
“I had this huge interest and hobby but I never got that support from anywhere. I was lucky enough that I was allowed to ride bikes so for me I used to go for hours and hours with my friend and we just had fun.”
After gaining qualifications for nutrition and personal training Shabana took her interest seriously and changed careers from her IT day job
“It was with the' little kickers' and when I started coaching them I really really enjoyed it. I was very fascinated that you can actually teach the kids certain skills, and from there on I just started progressing my interest and that's when I did my football coaching course”
Determined to complete the football coaching course Shabana stepped outside of her comfort zone and truly faced her fear of being judged
“I always say that had I not had that passion for sport I wouldn't have finished my course because it was so male dominated. I was the only Asian female wearing a head scarf as well so it was very tough. Others on the course had played for clubs and had that kind of experience and you know they knew more than what I knew so for me it was quite a daunting experience.”
The lack of BAME female coaches and PE teachers led Shabana to her current role
“One of the faith schools were looking for an afterschool club coach to run sessions for girls, and they couldn't find a female coach. Since then I started working as a PE teacher and really enjoyed it.
Roles models within the community and elite sport has received well by the younger girls Shabana works with
“we've had Rachel Yankey the footballer -she came in to school and that went down really well because the girls were like actually there is a female football player you know!
“It's been a real eye opener I've got to know quite a few faith schools and found out that the problem here is that girls are not being inspired to go and play sports., more needs to be done to engage these women”
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