*Photo credit of Shireen Ahmed above by Erica Ngao
Shireen is a Sports Activist, Writer, Public Speaker who focuses on Muslim women in sports, and coaches and mentors young girl football (soccer) players. She grew up on the east coast of Canada playing football (soccer), and still plays football on a local Muslim women's group. In this episode, Shireen shares about the first time she decided to wear her hijab, challenges Muslim women face in sports, and what it means to be a sports activist. Shireen writes a lot about the lack of diversity in sports writing, and challenges society's ideas of who we think a sports writer is, of who we think an expert is. She defines activism as
"People who try their best to make a change in something for the better, more inclusive and equitable for everyone, and having integrity in what you do and trying your best to try to not be an asshole."
Shireen writes a lot about the systemic racism and sexism in existing athletic federations and sport clubs, and how most of the people making decisions at the highest levels in sports are (cis) men. She doesn't believe that systemically, things have changed much in society, but that there is more conversation and dialogue through social media now.
"Objectivity is a construct that privileged people created."
Also, Shireen shares about how confidence is the biggest struggle that the Muslim girls she coaches face. Instead of starting football (soccer) practice by telling them what they need to work on, she asks them what they are going to bring to the game. She stresses how hard it is to get these girls to talk about what they are good at instead of their flaws. It reminds me that there is always a becoming for girls (and women), that we can't just BE.
Lastly, we nerd out about our love of athletics and sports, including our shared interest in American Ninja Warrior. Shireen shares about the various, interesting sports that she's tried and has gotten really into, and about the ONE sport she wants to try that she hasn't yet. Take a listen above or subscribe on iTunes (see above)!