Hijab a hit
Hot on the heels of Afghanistan’s women’s football team uniform featuring a hijab for the first time, an Irish rugby player is set to become the first in the country to wear the religious garment.
18 year-old Ruba Rosalina Bukhatwa only recently joined Tallaght Women's RFC, with the Irish Rugby Football Union quick to approve her headscarf for game wear.
Bukhatwa moved to Dublin from Libya when she was two.
She will wear the scarf tucked into her jersey, with a scrum cap over the top to ensure it’s not pulled by opponents.
"It was like a fashion statement at first when I was young, but when you grow older you learn more. For me I like the fact that I can represent Islam." - Ruba Rosalina Bukhatwa
It’s not an unprecedented move - the entire Iranian rugby team play in hijabs.
A growing movement
The London Olympic Games featured the first team, the United Arab Emirates weightlifting squad, to compete at a major international competition wearing the hijab.
In 2014, FIFA permanently overturned a controversial ban on the hijab, allowing many women who had previously not been allowed to compete at an international level take the field.
FIBA has also relaxed its previous ban.
Organisations becoming accommodating when it comes to the headwear, meaning more and more Muslim women are choosing to take up a sport, buoyed by the realisation they don’t have to choose between their religion, and being active.
Sports are well known for their ability to bring people together. In the current climate, the sight of a hijab in a sporting arena does more for inclusivity and breaking down cultural barriers than any politician’s soapbox speech.
Technology has played a big part in women remaining physically comfortable. Apparel company Veil is leading the way, producing a climate adaptable Cool Dry hijab, along with other modest-wear athletic products.
Supporter wear the next step?
In 2014, company Unity Sports Wrap began selling hijabs in the colours of AFL teams, an innovative idea that was universally applauded.
The wraps can still be purchased online.
It’s a concept that could easily be expanded to other sports. How great would it be to see Muslim women wearing their Matildas colours at a game in the future?