Moroccan football player Nouhaila Benzina created history by becoming the first footballer to wear a hijab in a World Cup game. This milestone proved that the hijab does not hinder playing at the highest level, despite a ban on health and safety grounds until 2014.
Her appearance inspired Muslim women and girls in grassroots football, hoping to encourage more hijabi football stars and foster inclusive clothing policies within clubs. Yasmin Hussain, head coach of Frenford & MSA, a prominent grassroots women’s team in east London, expressed pride in this moment and believed an England player wearing a hijab is on the horizon, thanks to the FA’s efforts in promoting inclusivity.
Around 40% of players at her club wear hijabs, including non-Muslim players, as Hussain recommends sports hijabs for safety. However, some clubs lack awareness on accommodating the needs of Muslim women who prefer modest dressing, including looser clothing, long sleeves, and considerations during Ramadan.
In the UK, football is increasingly becoming popular and accessible to Muslim women and girls, contrasting with France, where headscarves are banned in official matches by the football federation.
Ultimately, Benzina’s achievement paves the way for more young girls to dream of becoming professional footballers and breaking stereotypes while earning recognition and success in the sport.
Source: The Guardian