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Yasmin Nessa

Administrator, United Kingdom

In 2019, Yasmin Nessa found and led all aspects of a ground-breaking organisation for Muslim women, using football as an engagement tool to tackle social division in the City of Birmingham. After hearing about the unfortunate incident regarding Shamima Begum fleeing to Syria, Yasmin sought collaboration with a local grassroots football team Saltley Stallions FC to create Saltley Women’s. She wanted to create a society for the missed-generation of Muslim females in inner-city Birmingham, which could serve to be accessible to the poorest and most marginalised fractions of female society where they could be a part of an organised community, based around a common interest. The project uses football as an engagement tool to counter female loneliness, empowering its’ participants, and teaching them transferable life skills through a series of workshops. Inspired whilst undertaking post-graduate studies in policy and community engagement, she dedicated her spare time outside of the university to run the programme. Through the organisation, she aims to help women from inner-city Birmingham who want to progress in their sporting qualifications, meet like-minded women, and boost health and well-being. Yasmin leads a small team of volunteers, holding regular social events including a ‘networking for positivity’ event to create an inclusive, empowering organisation for Muslim women. The project now supports nearly 100 women in the local area holding weekly training and workshop sessions. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has adapted its training programme, hosting a series of virtual, female-only training sessions and fitness challenges to encourage young women to remain active, countering the mental and physical challenges which have arisen amidst the pandemic. The core elements of the project; inclusiveness, flexibility, empowerment and education ensures that the most disenfranchised women in the local area have a safe space to participate in recreational and organised sport. She continuously works to break down barriers which stop Muslim women accessing wider community activities and opportunities. More importantly, the club has helped challenge traditional conventions about the role Muslim women play in European society. It has been a refreshing addition in the city of Birmingham where opportunities have lagged behind for Muslim women.

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