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There is limited attention paid to the relationship between Muslim women in sports and a lack of equal access and opportunities in sport, which is one of the factors which has led to a lack of participation from Muslim Women

Organisations such as the MWSF and WSFF have offered significant contributions to the field in major cities such as London and Birmingham, however the participation in areas such as Leicestershire remain low in any form of participation and Phase Academy aims to address this

One of the research we carried out aimed to explore Muslim women practising hijaab-veil [the Muslim female head covering] in the west and their experiences in sport/physical activity. We looked at the barriers faced by Muslim women and the causes of low participating levels in sports within the Leicester-shire area

The research begun in 2011 for the first phase and ended in 2013 of the final phase. The studies involved an online survey with 101 responses from women aged 18 + from the Leicester-shire area, with a further 10 individual semi-interviews carried out as well as a focus group of 6 women from different backgrounds and parts of Leicester-shire areas.

Based on the academic research and analysis of the data gathered from the participants, it identified key themes aside of the Hijaab- veil.

Research Key Findings What We Found

For a Muslim women, the hijaab holds strong symbolic significance and more so physical and spiritual weight. With adequate and accommodating facilities, that warrants both supportive and positive attitudes in the facilities itself and individuals working there, Muslim women can have the potential opportunities to partake in sports and activity with ease and comfort.

In the west the knowledge and discernment of the role of the hijaab in particular for a Muslim woman is lacking, with negative media portrayal which results in poor and or no accommodating requirement in sports/PA for the Muslim women in hijaab.

Cultural and societal barriers are at play which contribute to the lack of participation, again this is lacking in understanding and knowledge from sport providers 90% of responses from our research revealed that Physical education experiences were negative, this agrees with the works of Pfister (2008) who highlighted how physical education does not adequately engage Muslim women. Therefore these women do not develop a proximal devotion to sports in this respect. As a result all of these key themes and factors directly affects Muslim women and their sense of respect and right to partake as well as their future drive to return and continue participating. One of our regular participating females stated the following:

One of our regular participating females stated the following:

"There was nothing out there for us Muslim women in Loughborough which actually catered to our needs and sensitivities, such as the veil and actually being able to participate in any sports or activity which was fun and enabled us to feel comfortable in a female only environment, until Phase Academy came along, thank you so much for the opportunity and please please don't give up on us, we are in need of this in our community! (24 year old British Asian female from Loughborough)"

Regular Female Participate

"Phase academy was set up in response to the participants from the research carried out. It also was in response to the growing need of a healthier active nation, and driving the Olympic legacy goals with this particular minority group of females."

Phase Academy

Phase Academy recognises the findings by DoH and by the NHS, particularly placing emphasis on decreasing poor health levels, which is commonly found amongst the South Asian decent - as they all exhibited lower rates than the general UK population. Phase has two areas of work: research/advice/consultation in BME Women sports, and provision of tailored sports for BME women in Leicester-shire that is also faith sensitive, with a particular focus on Muslim women who make up a large proportion of the BME population in Leicestershire

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