When Muslims on the Cedar Riverside Community School girls’ basketball team in Minneapolis found their traditional clothing interfered with sports activities, they sought a solution.
With the help of students at University of Minnesota's College of Design and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, the girls designed their own sports attire that met both religious and cultural standards.
Jennifer Weber, a coach at Cedar Riverside Community School, witnessed the girls struggling to handle their skirts or keep their hijabs intact while playing sports.
"Seeing them trip over their skirts, seeing them not be able to be safe and be active at the same time is really hard,” coach Jennifer Weber told the Minnesota Daily, the campus newspaper of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities
“Teams were forming, the girls were being active, but there was nothing for them to wear,” Weber told the Daily.
According to Minnesota Daily, the outfits are created from a breathable fabric and consist of leggings, flexible skirts, long sleeve shirts and a "sport hijab," which is detachable by Velcro to prevent injuries.
"The girls for years have been telling us, 'We would like clothing. We would like clothing,'" Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the two-year project told the Associated Press. Their new sportswear is designed to address worries over tripping over a long, flowing dress or having a loosely wrapped hijab come off while in action.
In 2009, the New York Times reported, Muslim women of all ages, though encouraged by their faith to take care of their bodies, find it difficult to stay fit while adhering to their religious principles of modesty because of coed gyms and skimpy workout wear.
The quest for culturally and religious appropriate beach and sportswear has also seen the burqini, which the Christian Science Monitor described in 2007 as "loose enough to preserve Muslim modesty, but light enough to enable swimming."
Over the years, Muslim women's headwear has been barred from major sporting events. In 2007 FIFA banned the hijab during soccer games because of potential choking danger, the restriction was however reversed in 2012. Last year, Qatar's women’s basketball team forfeited a match at the Asian Games after the players were asked in accordance with International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to remove their headscarves in order to play.