International Women's Day Spotlight: Khadija Patel KRIMMZ Girls Youth Club

In honour of International Women's Day Sporting Equals is spotlighting strong women in sport to share their lived experiences, highlight the intersectional barriers in addition to their accomplishments despite those barriers and advice for other women. This year's theme for International Women's Day is to #BreakTheBias, by sharing these stories, reflecting on the journies and providing insight and advice on how to engage in sport and physical activity we hope to do just that! 

We will finally be sharing the journey of  Khadija Patel who drives and leads the work of KRIMMZ Girls Youth Club which provides sports activities to young people in Bolton and is a member of Sporting Equals' Associate Member Network. Khadija emphasises the importance of having visible and varied role models and community outreach to strengthen and improve engagement from ethnically diverse women. Khadija herself is one such visible and diverse role model as a Muslim woman engaged in a variety of sports who chooses to wear a full veil and as she describes in her own words, a long cloak - she highlights that sport can and should be for everyone!
1. What is your name, age and sport you are engaged in? 

My name is Khadija Patel, I am 35 and I am actively engaged in netball, swimming, rounders and cricket. 
2. Where did your journey in sport begin? 

Since Primary School! 
3. What were your motivations and inspirations to be engaged in your sport/set up your sports organisation? 
Being a Muslim woman who wears the full veil and long cloak, it wasn't really fair to see women like myself not getting much opportunity to participate in sports.
Wanting to make a difference in my community I took up Youth and Community Work to a degree level at university.  
4.       As an ethnically diverse woman, what were the challenges you had to face to progress in your sport? 
Too many challenges!! Firstly, family not being supportive, but eventually overcoming that, community giving backlash and having to find suitable venues/trainers is always difficult.  
5.       What advice would you give to young girls who have aspirations to get involved in this sport?
Just do it! don't let anyone hold you back and being sensitively aware of your culture/religion you can achieve your goals. Where there is a will there IS or WILL BE a way. 
6.       What have been your biggest successes in your sport? 

Setting up young teams for netball and cricket. As well as training young people to become stars of the future. 
7.       Which role models did you look up to in sport?
Amir Khan (yes, he's a boxer!) but he's a local lad to Bolton, Muslim and always encouraged people from ethnically diverse backgrounds to take part in sport even if it wasn't boxing. 
Sadio Mane, (another Muslim footballer- very inspiring).
8.       How has Sporting Equals supported you in your journey in sport? 
Sporting Equals has been a God Send!! Literally, having the support from them has meant we have been able to get so many other young people who face similar challenges to achieve their goals.
Without them, we wouldn't have been able to set up netball and swimming for so many young girls across Bolton.  
9.       In your opinion, how better can the sports sector work with specific communities to better engage ethnically diverse women in sport? 
Need to do a lot more outreach. Too many people aren't aware of the opportunities/facilities available to them and their families, especially for women and girls from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Community Outreach with trusted organisations can help ensure women and girls from ethnically diverse backgrounds can have access to different types of sport.
For more information on Khadija's organisation, Krimmz Girls Youth Club click here. 
Find out more about Sporting Equals' Associate Members here.