About the learning resource

IARS is pleased to present a new learning resource to accompany the new short documentary film, ‘Sporting Sisters: Stories of Muslim Women in Sport’, which was produced by a group of young Muslim women aged 16-25. Click here to learn more about the project.

The learning resource contains archival images, historical facts and the full Sporting Sisters film. The resource is free to use and is ideal for use in the classroom, with youth groups or anyone interested in the heritage, culture and history of Muslim women insport.

Learning resource instructions

i. To watch the presentation, press the play button.  (You may need to install Flash).  It may take a minute to load.

ii. Keep clicking the same button/the next key on your keyboard to scroll through the slides, alternatively you can click 'More' in the bottom-right hand corner to activate Autoplay.  

iii.If you wish to watch full-screen, click 'More'  again and choose that option. 

The film is integrated into the presentation, but if you'd like to watch that first, please scroll down.

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Watch Sporting Sisters now

About the Sporting Sisters project and film

The film was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through their Young Roots programme, which aims to provide opportunities for young people in the United Kingdom to find out about and engage with their own and others’ heritage, and supported by IARS and the London Metropolitan University. The following resource was made by the young women to showcase their findings about the historical role of women in sport and the under-documented sporting achievements of Muslim athletes.

The project’s four key objectives were to employ a youth-led methodology to:

  • Explore, document and preserve the heritage of the UK’s Muslim women’s participation in sporting events covering the period of 1948 – today.
  • Skill-up and provide an opportunity to young women, including young Muslim women to lead on the project, and learn, reflect and document their 60 years history in sports
  • To ensure that amidst the sporting achievements of the Games that history and culture of one of the UK’s minority groups is not forgotten but preserved, disseminated and celebrated
  • Create bonds between different generations of Muslim women and encourage the exchange of ideas, historical facts, cultural historical facts and historical challenges


(L-R) Researchers examine a burkini, swimwear designed for Muslim women; Ruqaya al-Ghasara, Bahrainian sprinter who in 2004 was the first woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab

The film was inspired by the cultural milestone of the 2012 Olympic Games, which is geographically based in East London, an area where the Muslim Council of Britain estimates the Muslim population comprises around a quarter of a million people.  However, the number of Muslim women participating in the Olympics is disproportionately small, with cultural pressures often disinclining them to take up sport in the first place, along with greater issues such as the controversy around Saudi Arabia's decision whether or not to allow their women to compete in the Games. Moreover, this year's Olympics coincide almost exactly with the Muslim fast of Ramadan, so that Muslim athletes will be facing a unique set of challenges.

Using a mix of archive research and oral history interviews with different generations of Muslim women from across London, the film-makers investigated the scarcity of visible Muslim sportswomen, some of the reasons behind this (including availability of facilities and the issue of clothing), and what has changed for women and Muslim women since the Olympics was last held in London in 1948.

On Tuesday 1 May 2012, a screening was held at The Women’s Library, where some of the filmmakers presented their findings and answered questions.  The audience also heard from Sophia Rashid, founding member of Newham’s Women United Association Football Club and shortlisted Asian Sportswoman of the Year at the first ever Asians in Football Awards; Aisha Ahmad, post-doctoral research in Sociology of Sport and Islamic Studies at Birmingham University and Holly Challenger, Volunteer Coordinator at IARSThe film and the interview will also be archived at The Women’s Library, which houses one of the most extensive collections of women’s history in the UK.

The young filmmakers present their findings to an audience at The Women’s Library in London

The aims of the film-makers was to capture a snapshot of Muslim women’s views on sport in 2012, the year of London’s third Olympic Games and a time when Muslim women are rising from minority status to the forefront of public life.  The film preserves these views for future generations to look back on and see how life has changed in British society, as well as to help people today to learn more about the socio-cultural and historical contexts in which Muslim women play sport.