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Shireen Ahmed

Sports Journalist, Canada

Shireen is a writer, public speaker and an award-winning Sports Activist focusing on Muslim women in sports, and the intersections of racism and misogyny in sport. She is an Inclusion and Diversity consultant. She is also an athlete, advocate, community organizer, and works with Youth of Colour on empowerment projects. Her work has been featured and discussed in the Burn it All Down podcast (which she co-founded) and a host of international publications. She is also an advisory board member at various organisations, including Football Against Racism Europe (FARE) and Hijabi Ballers.

 

What is your favourite sport? Soccer/football
What drives you? A will to succeed, recognition of my opportunities, thankfulness for skill, and a desire to defeat the naysayers
What was your defining moment to get to where you are now? One moment that was really important in my professional development was being asked to participate on a panel with Human Rights First with Greg Louganis, and Eli Wolff.  It was moderated by the sportsmedia legend Christine Brennan.  We spoke about sports being a vehicle for Human Rights.  It made me feel hugely recognized and was the first time I ever traveled for work.  Tremendously exciting.  That was in 2014.  Another important time was when I saw my first byline in a major publication.  I co-wrote a piece with Dave Zirin at The Nation.  I almost cried with joy when I saw it.  It was a dream come true.  Since then, I just worked hard and grew from there.  Alhumdullilah.  I have bylines at Guardian, TIME, Vice Sports, Sports Illustrated and co-host a podcast with 4 other women called Burn It All Down.  It’s being rewarding and such an important experience.  God is Great.
What is your first sporting memory? Playing soccer on a hot, dry pitch wearing a yellow tee-shirt and with my thick black hair in two plaits.  I was the only brown girl there.  It was marvelous.  I fell in love with all of it.
Who is your inspirational woman in sport? I would have to say that I don’t look to just one woman, there are so many on my list.  But one of my favourites is definitely Nadia Nadim of Paris St. Germain and the Danish Football Team.  She’s a medical student, a refugee from Afghanistan and one of the most humble athletes I have ever spoken with.  Masha’Allah she is amazing.
Why is sport important? Sport is an incredible way to connect people, share life experiences, and work through difficulties using the purity and power of sport.  It is a beautiful and natural way to express and share.  Sport reminds us of our similarities despite being from different communities and places.  I have always known that there is a power in sport that is magical and so important.  One can be defined by not what they look like, but by what they are capable of doing, and their effort.  I think that is powerful and necessary.