MSA Event 2022
Written by Nilupa Rahim – 29th April 2022
What is MSA…?
While the benefits of sports are widely acknowledged, in 2022 Britain, the participation of Muslim women in sports remains relatively unheard of – even taboo! Few initiatives in England cater to female Muslims. The Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), a charity since 2014, was founded by the pioneering Yashmin Harun BEM. As a lifelong sports participant and advocate, Yashmin envisioned a space for practising Muslims to engage in sporting activities.
The lack of inclusivity and provisions in this area meant that Yashmin did not see women-led initiatives or representations. Thus, the Muslimah Sports Association was born, providing Yashmin and others with positive and safe environments to participate in sports without compromising their cultural or religious beliefs.
“We inspire, we develop, we empower” is the charity’s tagline with the vision being ‘Inspiring to create HERstory through sports, to improve physical and mental wellbeing’.
Since the inception of MSA, the organisation has grown in size and space. The list of accolades and awards below is a great recognition of the valuable work they do.
- Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sport at Muslim News Awards 2017.
- London Sports Workforce Award 2018
- She Awards 2019
- FA ‘for All’ Award 2019
- FA Grassroots Football Award 2019
- Faith and Belief Awards 2019
- British Muslim Awards – Spirit of Britain 2020
- Archery GB Participation of the Year 2022
- British Muslim Awards – ‘Social Inclusion Project of the Year 2022
On the 18th of March, the Muslimah Sports Association held their milestone, inaugural celebratory event. The opulent, dazzling, crystal-chandeliered Mayfair Venue in Romford set the stage for a glittering, star-studded, smartly dressed evening. Hosted by me and my co-host, Nadia Islam, it was a celebration to recognise and convey thanks to all participants, volunteers, coaches, partners, and supporters of MSA for their hard work and effort. The evening even had its own hashtag #msaevent2022.
From Arrival to Farewell
Upon arrival at the venue, guests were greeted, their names checked off and shown to their tables. In the grand hall, guests had an opportunity to peruse exclusive auction items and place their bids.
Once the guests had settled down comfortably, the evening began. The lineup was jam-packed with performances, speeches, and awards. The evening started with a beautiful, serene Quran recitation by one of our young members – Soumeya. The next performance featured fencing by our young participants – Summayah and Aysha. Eleanor Martin from the multi-award-winning Khayaal Theatre also performed her piece of dramatic art. The last performance of the evening was by Aminah Rahman, a spoken word poet.
The night also saw inspirational women gracing our stage.
- Lady Sidra Naeem, the first Muslim woman to achieve the status of being a Deputy Lord Lieutenant in the county of Essex (Queen’s representative), joined us on stage to talk about the benefits of exercise to our physical and mental health.
- The honourable Debbie Hewitt MBE, the first female chair of the FA, sent MSA a very special message which was played to the audience.
- The inspiring Zara Mohammed, the first female General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, was the next guest to advocate the work that MSA does to make sports more inclusive for women (especially Muslim women).
- Khadijah Mellah, a professional, hijab-wearing jockey, and Athena Bashar, an amateur boxer and Muay Thai fighter, joined us on stage for a conversation.
Sustenance During The Event
To whet the guests’ appetite during the show, an impressive extensive grazing table with canapés and charcuterie was laid out. Cupcakes were also on offer. Of course, no event of this calibre is complete without a sumptuous, three-course dinner. The banquet meal consisted of rich meat, tender chicken, and fresh vegetable and dhal curries – all served with the tastiest pilau and plain rice as well as warm fluffy naan bread.
The event featured a professional photographer capturing key moments and beautiful memories, along with a media screen and social media frames with the hashtag #msaevent2022.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. As such, so did the celebratory evening. We concluded the event by paying homage to the spirit of MSA’s collaborative work – with a huge group selfie! It felt like the most appropriate way to end what was a very successful night.
MSA’s meticulous planning did not forego us – the hosts. Both Nadia and I were presented with a beautiful thank-you hamper for hosting. We were both moved by their thoughtful gifts, but that is just the very nature of MSA!
Looking Forward – The Future of MSA
The night was meticulously executed as a result of many hours, weeks, and months of planning. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and the reviews and feedback have been phenomenal. I envisage this event to now become an annual celebration – and it is most deserving to be as such!
MSA has grown immensely since its inception, and it’s easy to see why. Sports and physical exercise are approached holistically. Working with valuable partners and collaborating with specialist industries means safer and more individualised, tailored programmes and environments.
The vision is to expand beyond London and support even more women in sports conducive to ‘Sport for development’ in communities, thus reinforcing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Exciting times lie ahead for MSA, and I, as well as many others, look forward to being part of that exciting journey.