In an effort to bolster and encourage the participation of Muslim female athletes in sports, Britain’s Brunel University London in Uxbridge has just unveiled a high-performance sports hijab. This inclusive move marks a first for any educational institute in the United Kingdom.
The ultra-lightweight, stretchy fabric comes in two sizes to suit wearers’ various head shapes, and in a navy blue colorway branded with the university’s emblem. Featuring miniature, breathable holes for venting — the traditional headscarf is made out of cotton, and as a result can become hot and uncomfortable — the high-performance garment is a game-changer.
The decision to create the sports hijab came after a 2017 report by Sports England found that just 18% of Muslim women participate in sport. Upon realizing the lack of female participation in its sporting programs, especially amongst visibly Muslim women, the university took the initiative to create a lighter, more breathable garment for hijab-wearing athletes. “Brunel is one of only four UK universities to offer a free sports program, and we noticed that there was a gap in female sports participation,” explained Ranjeet Rathore, President of the Union of Brunel Students, who has led the hijab’s creation, in a statement.
“When we narrowed it down, we found the main gap to be in BAME female sports participation – specifically, we found there to be a barrier to Muslim women taking part in team sport,” he stated.
Many brands, including Siya and Raqtive, have previously introduced high-performance sports hijabs in their collections in an effort to cater to the expansive Muslim market. Notably, Nike almost broke the internet when it launched the Nike Pro Hijab — named one of Time’s 25 Best Inventions — at the end of 2017.