The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) recently announced a landmark decision, officially allowing players to wear headgear. For years, the federation had barred players from sporting headgear. The new rule will come into effect from October 1, 2017.
“I think it will pass,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley told the Associated Press. “It came up in our board meeting and everyone supported making the change,” The Guardian reported.
Many campaigners, including athletes like Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who is one of the pro basketball players, but was unable to pursue her dream because of her religious practice, are overwhelmed with the news. The Muslim player who hails from Springfield, Massachusetts, leads the scoring record for high school players—male or female—in the state and went on to have a successful college career at Indiana State and the University of Memphis. After graduating, she wanted to play in Europe but could not do so because women players in hijab have been prohibited from the court since they wear headcoverings and, according to FIBA’s uniform rule, that’s a violation.
“I am overwhelmed with emotion, I’m happy to be a part of history and positive change,” Abdul-Qaadir told VICE Sports. She is currently in Memphis, working as the athletic director of a private school.
Seeing this imbalance, Abdul-Qaadir joined hands with another former NCAA Division I player Indira Kaljo, a Bosnian-American, and gathered more than 20 other women to create a social-media campaign called #FibaAllowHijab. Their Change.org petition, was launched to addressed a permanent end to the ban, resulting in collecting more than 130,000 signatures.
Another basketball player, Asma Elbadawi, wrote in an email to VICE Sports, saying, “I have never been so happy in my life.”
Asma is a Sudanese-British player and a poet, and is currently playing in a league in England.
Not only hijab but FIBA’s ban was included in every professional league all over the world, and players — be it Muslim women in hijab to Sikh men in turbans, and Jewish men in kippot — have been a part of the injustice for years.
“There is zero conflict between my faith and my ability to play basketball,” Darsh Preet Singh, the first turbaned Sikh player in the NCAA, said in a statement provided by the Sikh Coalition. “I am thrilled about FIBA’s decision, which will allow athletes across the world to pursue their dreams without compromising their faith.”
Finally, on May 4, 2017, FIBA’s 139 member federation voted and approved the new rule allowing headgear. The decision is worth a celebration!
Feature Image Credit: Mic
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