Making Ground: Muslim Girls in Sport Panel

15 September 2022

On Thursday, 1 September 2022, Al Siraat College, RMIT University and the City of Whittlesea hosted the community engagement event "Making Ground: The Participation of Muslim Girls in Sport and Recreation", as part of Dr Tuba Boz's and Prof Hariz Halilovich's RMIT’s research with our school community: In the Game: Overcoming barriers and parental attitudes towards physical activity outcomes of Muslim girls on the fringes of Melbourne.

This event was a culmination of some of the outcomes of the research, with a panel discussion represented by various people from different backgrounds. It was very well attended by various sporting associations and clubs from around the City of Whittlesea and Greater Melbourne, State Sporting Associations, Victorian State Government, as well as parents, students and staff from our school community.

Panellists included:

  • Prof Hariz Halilovich – RMIT University (Moderator)
  • Sarah Styles – Director, Office for Women and Sport and Recreation (OWSR)
  • Rahat Arain – Co-founder and Director of Student Learning, Al Siraat College
  • David Hally – Head of Secondary Health & PE, Al Siraat College
  • Safiye Asanova – Girls PE and Health Coordinator, Al Siraat College
  • Megan Harper – Sport Inclusion Officer, City of Whittlesea
  • Rachael Hussein – Community Engagement Officer, Al Siraat College
  • Sarah Loh – Executive Manager, Future Healthy Group, VicHealth
  • Nawal Jaleel – Year 8 student, Al Siraat College
  • Tanja Kubitza – Content and Relations Lead, Al Siraat College.

During the panel discussion, Prof Halilovich asked each panellist specific questions, with a Q&A session afterwards which facilitated a great discussion. The students in the audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing the story of one of their peers, Nawal, spoke of her journey into competitive softball, and how her father was a driving force in encouraging her to find a sport that was suitable, and which she enjoyed. She was the only girl wearing hijab in her team, and her team were accepting and embraced her participation. The official part of the evening came to an end with closing remarks by the Hon. Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes on behalf of the Hon. Ros Spence MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs; Community Sport; Youth and the Prevention of Family Violence.

After the panel discussion, there was an opportunity to network. The response from people who attended was very positive, with all sporting clubs and associations saying they will be making some changes (such as uniform options for girls) to encourage more Muslim girls to be involved in their sport, by breaking down current barriers that exist.

One of the main findings of Dr Boz's and Prof Halilovich's study is that the collaboration between City of Whittlesea and Al Siraat College has been a big influence in successfully encouraging girls and women to participate in sports and physical activity. In addition, if young girls see and hear of their female role models, especially their mothers, participating in sport and physical activity, they are more likely to get involved themselves. In addition, if both mothers and fathers encourage and support their girls, they are more likely to participate. Sport and physical activity are important for all people to do, and particularly from a young age, as it improves physical, mental and psychological wellbeing, which in turn helps improve grades and satisfaction within students, both males and females. We believe the work that is being done as a result of this study, and the collaboration between City of Whittlesea and Al Siraat College, is really ground breaking and will facilitate positive change now and for the future.

We wish to thank Dr Boz and Prof Halilovich from the Social Global Studies Centre, RMIT University for choosing to focus their study on Al Siraat, as it has provided our College with many opportunities that we may not otherwise have had. We also wish to thank Megan Harper from City of Whittlesea for creating a great connection with Al Siraat College, particularly with our PE Department and many mums of our school. She has helped create many opportunities, and break down barriers, and the result has been very positive.

Click here to enjoy the short video produced by Golf Australia. It shows some of our mums who enjoyed the Ladies Golf Program in 2021 and 2022, which was sponsored by City of Whittlesea and Growling Frog Golf Course.