GB Taekwondo recently held a cultural awareness event in Manchester, where athletes and staff joined keynote speakers to break the daily fast at sunset and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan. The event aimed to promote inclusivity and break down barriers faced by Muslims in sport.
Khadijah Mellah, the first hijab-wearing jockey to take part in competitive horse racing events in Britain, delivered a thought-provoking speech at the event. Her experiences of training and fasting during Ramadan resonated with taekwondo fighters Mohammed Nour and Farzad Mansouri, who also participate in sports while fasting.
She was born and raised in Peckham, South London. Her parents, who are of Moroccan descent, did not have any experience in horse racing. Despite this, Mellah developed a love for horses at a young age and started riding at the age of 12 at the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. Mellah’s passion for horse racing grew as she continued to ride, and she eventually started competing in local races. Her determination and hard work led her to become the first hijab-wearing jockey to take part in competitive horse racing events in Britain.
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Additional Muslim Athletes
Mohammed Nour is a taekwondo fighter who trains with GB Taekwondo. He is originally from Sudan and has represented his country at international competitions. Nour has also competed in various domestic tournaments in the United Kingdom, winning medals in multiple events. He is set to compete at the upcoming World Taekwondo Championships, scheduled to take place in May 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Nour’s dedication to his sport and his achievements as a taekwondo fighter have made him a role model for young athletes in the Muslim community.
Former British taekwondo athletes of Muslim faith include double Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammed and two-time Olympian and world silver medallist Mahama Cho. GB Taekwondo hopes to continue promoting inclusivity and providing opportunities for Muslim athletes to excel in their sport.
Inclusivity in Taekwondo
GB Taekwondo’s CEO, Paul Buxton, highlighted the value of inclusion in the organisation’s culture. He recognized that Muslim athletes and staff of Muslim faith are underrepresented in Olympic and Paralympic sports and often misrepresented in society. GB Taekwondo sees an opportunity to play a part in encouraging Muslim communities to engage in sports and breaking down the barriers they face.
Importance of Cultural Awareness
The event also featured a prayer and explanation of the Islamic faith by Imam Shafiq of the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester. This provided an opportunity for athletes and staff to learn about Islam and understand the significance of Ramadan to Muslims. Cultural awareness is crucial in promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers in sports.
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The cultural awareness event organised by GB Taekwondo is a significant step towards promoting diversity and dismantling barriers that Muslims encounter in the sports field. The organisation recognizes the importance of understanding and respecting different cultures and religions to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. By providing opportunities for Muslim athletes to excel in their sport and encouraging Muslim communities to engage in sports, GB Taekwondo hopes to play its part in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the world of sports.