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In her article for the Globe and Mail, I Was a Teenage Hijabi Hockey Player, Sheema Khan details her experience of being a hijabi hockey player in her teenage years. Wistfully, she reminisces about the Montreal Canadians’ games she watched that fostered her passion for the sport and an inspiring meeting with Canadian hockey legends after a Stanley Cup parade. Khan describes the surprising reactions to her, not that unusual for Canada, hockey past, as Muslim women are seldom expected to follow or practice a sport, let alone a dangerous one.
Trailblazing, Success, and Passion
As there were no organized hockey opportunities for girls then, only ringette, “I grew up playing street hockey, driveway hockey, and table hockey,” states the author, so, later on, playing in a recreational league, she finally learns to skate on proper hockey skates (Khan). Studying at McGill, she is unable to join the varsity team, instead, Khan plays intramural hockey, with an excellent fighting spirit, as the uneven technique of some of the players at times leads to injuries. In Boston, while in graduate school, she is the one to introduce Harvard to women’s intramural hockey, her trailblazing team is passionate in its love for the sport, even though the technique may be found lacking.
Detailing specific challenges Muslim women face in sport, she finds that hockey presents no problems with preserving modesty, due to the protective gear the players wear. Nevertheless, communal showers and locker rooms, as Islam prescribes same-sex modesty as well, demand that the player enter and exit quickly, with eyes downcast. Abstaining from alcohol during post-game celebrations and other group activities seems not to present problems for Muslim sportsperson’s socialization, and the teammates are forthcoming in allowing for prayer space and time.
To summarize, the challenges Khan encounters in her hockey-playing youth relate to the absence of opportunities for women even in an extremely popular national sport, for she makes no mention of being discriminated against due to her faith.
Khan, Sheema. “I Was a Teenage Hijabi Hockey Player.” The Globe And Mail, 2005, Web.