Women's only badminton sessions
Have you ever thought of running a women’s only session? Well this is exactly what the Black Arrows club has done in the form of a satellite club session.
The Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF) in partnership with the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) have sourced funding via Sport England to deliver female only badminton sessions. In order to deliver these sessions The Black Arrows club in Redbridge have been working in partnership with the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) to provide a suitable coach to deliver on a weekly basis.
MSA have been established since 2014 and currently provide various sporting opportunities to Muslim women within the community. Rimla Akhtar, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF) contacted Badminton England to source a coach to deliver a session following the successful awarding of funding. MWSF was working with the MSA to deliver multi-sport locally and badminton was identified as a sport of choice. The response to the session has been overwhelming.
Each week there is a two hour session held in a local school sports hall which is delivered by Amardeep Panesar, one of the coaches at the club. The start of the session is designed to get all the ladies onto court and complete some skills drills to help their development before moving on to game play, where they are able to play singles or doubles. Mini-tournaments have been held to provide the ladies with the chance to play more competitively with both a single and double tournament taking place so far.
The sessions continue to grow with new participants joining each week with approximately 40 ladies turning up weekly to play.
The strong reputation of the Muslimah Sports Association has enabled the women to feel comfortable and safe in the knowledge that the activities are arranged to ensure they will not be interrupted. This gives them the confidence and freedom to play without their hijabs and abayas and play in just their sports gear if they want to.
The sessions have been promoted via various Facebook pages relevant to the ladies as well as through an email forum aimed at Muslims in Redbridge. In addition the ladies have shared it themselves within their whatsapp groups and within each other’s family groups.
Promotion of the sessions has been really positive by those who have attended previous MSA sports sessions and through the chair of the MSA, Yashmin.
Some of the ladies expressed that the reason they keep coming back is because “they are meeting new people, the coach and socialising”. They have also enjoyed finding their inner competitiveness as well as for their own general fitness.
For most ladies, badminton has woken up the love they had for the sport when they were at school/college but have not played since then. For many of the ladies this is the only activity session they do a week and all the players have improved significantly over the weeks. Badminton has offered the ladies not only exercise, but a social aspect and time out for themselves.