Iqra Ismail started NUR Women's Football Club to offer fellow Muslim women the space in which to enjoy football, something she says is not readily available despite the growth of the women’s game.
Iqra's own experiences playing football as a young girl facing discrimination and racism inspired her to take action and create a safe space for young BAME girls to enjoy their football.
These experiences laid the foundations for NUR - 'Never Underestimate Resilience' - the club Iqra started for black and minority ethnic girls last year.
Speaking to FIFA, Iqra, who is currently studying for a degree in Sociology and Psychology, explains that her background as a Muslim woman has had a profound impact on her football journey.
“Women’s football is growing, but to be fair it is growing mainly for the white community and for people that have more privilege and standing in their community.
“As a Muslim woman there are more restrictions, more stereotypes - and not just from my own community but from the rest of the world as well."
A growing tribe
Iqra’s passion for football was built in her own childhood and it was her own experiences of often feeling like the odd one out that ignited her plan to build her own football club for girls.
“We’d say, ‘We’re not accepted here, but one day we’ll have a place where we are accepted and where these girls can play and feel comfortable.’
Alongside her friends, Amirah Jama and Badra Osman, Iqra launched NUR last June and has seen an ever-increasing number of young girls join her tribe.
"It started with 15 girls, then 18, 23 and 40. It really grew exponentially and in a way, I never thought it would."
Grassroots football is clearly important for Iqra and growing participation in younger age groups and inspiring young girls is a key part of her work at NURWFC.
“It is really important for the younger age groups, maybe the U-10s, U-13s, U-16s, U-6s and U-8s even,”
“I want to instil the idea early and say, ‘You know what? If football is your passion, you need to keep going with it.’”
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