Overcoming cultural and religious barriers.
There is a great deal of data showing that ethnic minority women often have the lowest rates of sport and recreational participation. As an inclusion coach, it is my job to explore the types of barriers perceived or experienced by men and women from minority groups, and culturally and linguistically diverse people.
Recently a Muslim basketball player was set to challenge a decision by Swiss sports authorities requiring her to either remove her headscarf or stop competing. “I’ve been playing wearing my scarf for almost a year and a half. Many of the players have Christian tattoos and religious symbols on their bodies and nobody objects to that.”
This type of intransigence from sport’s governing bodies does nothing to break down the many cultural and religious barriers to participation in sport.
Clearly much more work needs to be done with removing barriers in sport. We need to incorporate and accommodate religious and cultural beliefs until they become the norm.
I think a lack of representation and opportunities from organizations to be part of this process is the first barrier that needs to change.
My good friend and senior sports coach Nasser Ameen has spent much of his sporting life working with and representing community groups. Here are some of his thoughts.
“Whenever I have been commissioned to work on projects designed to improve opportunities for BAME communities, I am invariably the token BAME guy parachuted in to achieve a quick short-term fix. Long term, nothing changes. After I hand over my projects/work, any progress made often disappears. To me, this shows a lack of priority and support from organizations.
At least people are starting to speak up thanks to certain movements like “Black lives matter” but let us hope it can change the views of the people on top to make a change”.
MSc Sports Performance Analysis – Academy Performance Analyst