A.S.P.I.R.E. Monthly Blog - Ammarah Pandor
In February 2016, Kick It Out launched A.S.P.I.R.E. – Ambassadors Supporting and Promoting Inclusion, Respect and Equality – a new ambassadorial group for young people aged between 16-21.
A.S.P.I.R.E. have advised the organisation on how to help promote the message of equality in the game and society, whilst ensuring the next generation continue to challenge discrimination and promote inclusion.
For this month’s entry, Ammarah Pandor (above, second from left), discusses her experience delivering an equality workshop with our Education Officer, as well as taking part in The FA People’s Cup and writing an article for PE Review.
Workshop at Quwwat-Ul-Islam School
Recently I attended Quwwat-Ul-Islam, a Muslim Girls’ School in London, alongside Hayley Bennett, our Education Officer. What motivated me to get involved in this event was the lack of role models in women’s football for Muslims, which is something that I aim to challenge to make the game more inclusive.
The effect the lack of specific role models in the industry may have on young people is that they may believe that a career in football is unattainable. Having a greater range of role models would be encouraging to those with a lower self-confidence and increase participation in female football starting from a younger age.
My personal aim of the session at the high school was to make the girls feel empowered, especially after recent events worldwide that may have knocked their self-esteem. Although not all of the girls at the school participated in football, their knowledge and understanding of discrimination and prejudice increased as the day progressed.
The event began with Hayley and I sharing our stories with the students to get discussions flowing. Following this, there were a number of fun activities and quizzes surrounding the background behind Kick It Out and powerful role models in the sporting industry such as Rimla Akhtar, chair of the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation, Karren Brady, vice-chairman at West Ham United and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré.
Throughout the workshop, there were opportunities for the students to win some prizes, which sparked the students’ competitive sides – all keen to get their hands on the chocolatey treats! Students also had the chance to write a stereotype they often hear on a post-it note and attach it onto the smart board. Before destroying the written stereotypes, the statements were discussed in terms of which was most common, the impact they have on the individuals and what can be done to challenge them.
Although one of the key purposes of attending the event was to share my experiences in order to increase the students’ understanding of discrimination within the game, I learnt many things from them too. I think it’s important for a relationship to be established whereby both parties can develop their knowledge.
An example of stories I heard from individuals was the effect of being a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Although I knew there was some stigma around this garment being worn, I was never personally able to relate completely, but speaking to the students reminded me how big an issue this is in society today. A lot of work still needs to be done to challenge this in football, despite some progress being made in recent years which allows women to wear a headscarf as long as it’s the colour of the team kit.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Quwwat Ul Islam staff and students for making Hayley and I feeling so welcome and for the incredible participation from the students. It was definitely a day that I enjoyed and a day I’ll remember; I hope the students will too!
The FA People’s Cup
The weekend following the event at Quwwat Ul Islam, I participated in The FA People’s Cup with a group of my friends in Leeds. Initially, it was just meant to be an event that would allow me to participate in and watch the sport I love, alongside meeting some new people!
However, during the event, one moment made me think different about the situation I found myself in. In one of the games, my opponent noticed my teammate struggling to tie her laces and so she assisted her in doing so – despite her opportunity to take advantage of this and bag her team the first goal of the match.
At that point I realised how sportsmanship like this is rarely publicised in the media, yet these moments are the most heart-warming and strengthen the image of English football.
Not only did I witness great character during the game, I made some pretty amazing friends too and I hope them the greatest success on their journeys.
Recently I wrote an article about ASPIRE for PE Review, an educational magazine targeting A-Level students seeking further knowledge about the sporting industry.
Once my teacher had discovered the work ASPIRE had been doing, he offered me the opportunity to introduce our team on a different platform than what we had previously been exposed to, allowing us to reach a wider audience to voice our concerns and aims for the near future.
I think it’s important that the work Kick It Out and ASPIRE collectively do gets recognised to inspire and motivate other young people to do something productive for themselves and their communities too, especially with the growing number of opportunities becoming available for us.
The blogs written by A.S.P.I.R.E. members are based on their own personal opinion and may not reflect those of Kick It Out.