Muslim girls who want to participate in sports but also wear the hijab often face a tough decision. Traditional modest dress does not always make it easy to move around quickly, and a lot of girls find themselves constantly adjusting their headwear while trying to pay attention to their sport, or having to give up their sports entirely when they start wearing hijabs. Now, however, several companies are making sports hijabs specifically to allow Muslim women and girls who wear hijabs to participate in sports. Even Nike makes them now. Now one Maine high school is making headlines by being the first school in the U.S. to provide sports hijabs to any students who want to wear them.
According to Yahoo Style, the school had no idea it was going to be the first when it decided to start providing the hijabs. Melanie Craig is the athletic director of Deering High School in Portland, Maine, and she says she just assumed other schools were already doing it.
Craig said she noticed that students’ hijabs were getting in the way for some girls on the tennis team, so she went about researching possible solutions. That’s when she discovered sports hijabs, which are designed to stay close and tight and wick sweat like any athletic garment, and she just figured it was the most obvious solution in the world.
”As an athletic administrator, for every one of my student athletes I’m just thinking about what’s the most current, what’s the best equipment, what are the advances in uniforms or softball bats, or whatever,” Craig said. ”To me it was a no-brainer.”
The sports hijabs come from a Minneapolis-based company called Asiya Sport, and they’re made in the U.S. and cost about $40 apiece. Deering is a public high school, and Craig was unsure of the best way to get money to provide the sports hijabs as part of the uniforms, because that would mean using taxpayer money for religious garments.
While she was working on that, however, two students took their own initiative and solved the problem on their own. According to Yahoo Style, tennis team co-captains Liva Piece and Anaise Manikunda set up a GoFundMe campaign to buy sports hijabs for the hijab-wearing girls on the tennis team. Neither Piece nor Manikunda are Muslim, but they said they wanted to help all students feel more included.
The campaign eventually raised $800, which was enough to buy sports hijabs for all the athletes who wanted them on all the school’s various sports teams. They set out to get them for the tennis team, and wound up providing them for volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, tennis, and track. That’s pretty amazing. (And will look awesome on college applications next year.) The money comes from private donations, not taxpayer funds, and everyone who donated did so specifically to buy sports hijabs for Muslim athletes.
The sports hijabs have been an enormous success at Deering. The school offers them in the school’s colors of white, purple, and black, and the hijab-wearing students say they are amazing.
“I love these hijabs, they literally are the greatest thing that has happened to me at Deering,” said lacrosse goalie Sulwan Ahmed, who told Yahoo Style that they made her feel “fierce” when she gets to the field.
Craig says she was stunned by the negative response she saw online, though. Comments on local news stories about the program have been horrible. They’ve been racist, misogynistic, and virulently anti-Muslim. Unfortunately, that probably won’t stop any time soon, but Craig says she thinks this will double the number of female Muslim athletes at her school, and that’s a pretty huge success.
(Image: Instagram / Asiya Sport)