British-Pakistani woman Haseeba Abdullah, England’s first hijab-wearing (veil wearing) boxing coach, has now been named a “Hometown Hero” for the Commonwealth Games slated to be held next year in Birmingham, Geo News reported
British-Pakistani woman Haseeba Abdullah, England’s first hijab-wearing (veil wearing) boxing coach, has now been named a “Hometown Hero” for the Commonwealth Games slated to be held next year in Birmingham, Geo News reported.
Haseeba, who has been described as an incredible ambassador for women's sport, coaches at Windmill Boxing Gym in Smethwick.
Speaking to Geo News, Haseeba said she developed a passion for boxing at a very young age which was for her, at the time, just an after school activity.
“A lot of families don’t really approve of women in sports but things are changing. There is now a broadening of minds in our community and people are realizing that this is beneficial for women and not a negative thing.”
But for Haseeba, whose parents are originally from Gujarat, Pakistan, it was different. She had the full support of her family.
“My family is my biggest supporter. My parents are very, very supportive of me. My brothers, who I actually coach alongside, are an amazing team,” said Haseeba.
There was a time when she really wanted to compete and progress in the sport but she was forced not to do so — the reason being her wearing the hijab.
”That was the biggest barrier to getting involved in boxing for young women of Pakistani and other South Asian communities before the changes.”
The rules about the boxing dress code were changed by International Boxing Association (AIBA), in 2019.
“Now we can wear full sleeves and cover our legs and even wear the hijab, if necessary. That’s an amazing change for women,” said Haseeba.
But by that time. she had decided to move on. As she was earlier unable to compete in the sport she loved so much, she decided to coach other women and keep on pushing the authorities for changes in uniform.