Team Shirzanan 2017 sports exchange with soccer legend Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy!
August 30, 2016
NON-STOP MEDIA INC wrote -
Shirzanan is an advocacy and media platform working to improve access to sports and its benefits for Muslim girls and women around the world.
Within five days (August 14-18) Shirzanan had three op-eds published by The New York Times and CNN! Click on their names Kulsoom Abdullah (Sports should allow Muslim females who choose to compete covered), Raha Moharrak (Everest is not the only mountain I have climbed) and Solmaz Sharif (Iranian women should not face arrest and threats for watching volleyball) for links to the pieces.
Shirzanan is pronounced SHEER'zah-non, means "female heroes" in Persian, and aptly describes Muslim female athletes---such as Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and our "Athlete Ambassadors"---who excel at sports and use sports to empower girls and women in their communities.
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO COVER TRAVEL AND TRAINING EXPENSES OF THESE TRAILBLAZING CHANGE-MAKERS---OUR SHIRZANAN ATHLETE AMBASSADORS!
In the year since our Team Shirzanan bicycle #RideForRights, Shirzanan has elevated representation of talented Muslim athletes who boldly speak up and step forward to advance gender equality, catalyze social change and reform institutions who control access to sports.
- Through an interview with The New York Times,
- Presentation at the United Nations,
- Meeting with the International Olympic Committee,
- Conference convened by the White House,
- Stories on Chime For Change, and
- Original articles on our website...
Shirzanan is earning our place as the source for and about Muslim female athletes.
As a nonprofit relying on grants and donations to sustain our work, we would sincerely appreciate your support.
WHO ARE OUR AWESOME ATHLETE AMBASSADORS?
- Raha Moharrak - the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest! With no sports infrastructure available to women in her country, she taught herself to climb mountains by watching YouTube videos and developing inventive training exercises---including being driven to the middle of the desert, filling a backpack full of sand and building endurance by running up and down hills for hours at a time.
Raha advocates for health through sports. Shirzanan supports Raha by sharing our network and expertise, including introductions to board advisor Minky Worden, the New York Times, United Nations and the International Olympic Committee to promote sport development in Saudi Arabia where physical education classes are not offered to the 4 million girls in public schools. CNN published her op-ed on August 18.
To join Team Shirzanan, Raha learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 29. Bicycling in Saudi Arabia was not permitted for girls/women until 2013---and only for recreational purposes, in designated areas, while fully covered, and with a male relative nearby.
- WATCH Kiran Khan - a Pakistani Olympic swimmer who began her career at age 10---and was dubbed the Golden Girl (for all the gold medals she won). Kiran cut her hair and pretended to be a boy for four years in order to train in the public pools from which girls were barred. She now owns and operates her own swimming academy. Shirzanan supports Kiran by improving visibility of she and other Pakistani sportswomen through media including Chime for Change.
- WATCH Hajar Abulfazil- an Afghan soccer player who intends to build a female-only sports complex and hospital in Kabul. Of 600 youth delegates at the United Nations Winter Assembly, Shirzanan helped Hajar to develop a proposal that reached the final 9 in the social change competition. Currently, the only indoor sports facility is shared by the men's and women's national teams; during the six days per week that it is open, women are only allowed 4 hours of access.
- WATCH Mona Seraji- an Iranian snowboarding and surfing pioneer determined to provide the next generation of female snowboarders with hope and proper coaching not available when she was starting out. Mona earned her coaching certification eight years ago and endeavors to train an Iranian girl to Olympic-grade status. Shirzanan supports Mona by developing her coaching skills and a fund to cover the training expenses of promising athletes.
- WATCH Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir - a Muslim-American basketball scoring champion whose professional creer is on hold due to the international basketball association's ban on hijab---claiming it's an injury risk. She and 14 other players from around the world are fighting the ban. Shirzanan supports Bilqis by disseminating her story and petition---and by introducing her to decision-makers in sports governing bodies.
- Kulsoom Abdullah - a Pakistani-American Olympic weightlifter whose historic efforts led to the International Weightlifting Federation's modified uniform regulations allowing women to cover in accordance with their Muslim faith. She paved the way for this Egyptian Olympian. Shirzanan supports Kulsoom by raising awareness in media, including this op-ed published by The New York Times on August 14!
- WATCH Soolmaz Abooali - an Iranian-American former refugee, scholar, athlete and 11-time Traditional karate champion using sport for conflict resolution. Shirzanan supports Soolmaz by publishing her opinion pieces and connecting her with stakeholders working in sports for development and peace.
- WATCH Amani Ammoura - a Jordanian cyclist and member of the Global Biking Initiative who raise money for charities. Amani led five male Team Shirzanan-Jordan members from Vienna to Berlin promoting females in sport. Shirzanan supports Amani in developing a plan for the first women's cycling club in Amman.
- WATCH Solmaz Sharif, an Iranian-American who founded the first Shirzanan online magazine about Iranian sportswomen. Solmaz made this video in support of the #Watch4Women campaign pushing for access to sports as a spectator. In Iran, women are banned from entering stadiums to watch men's national football and volleyball matches. The New York Times published her op-ed on August 16!
WHY IS OUR WORK IMPORTANT?
Many barriers to Muslim girls and women playing sport for health and fun are also experienced by women of all backgrounds—and is why Title IX in the U.S. was such a game-changer. However, government policies, misinformation and cultural and religious expectations of women from the South Asian, Middle Eastern, and African communities can create additional barriers--- including at a young age when sport becomes a lifetime practice.
Muslim girls and women are underrepresented in many sports bodies and competitions; Shirzanan Ambassadors and Staff are working to increase that representation!
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Everyone deserves access to sports. Imagine your life without sports. Imagine the skills and opportunities that you may not have developed. Imagine a scholarship and education you may not have received. Or, imagine the camaraderie and joy you may not have enjoyed. We know that sport is linked to everything---from health to education, friendships, economic empowerment and gender equality.
We're riding a wave of interest in Muslim female athletes---prompted by the Team Shirzanan #RideForRights and bolstered by Ibtihaj Muhammad's history-making Olympic appearance in Rio!
We need your help to bring our Ambassadors back to America this Fall for meetings and conferences in support of the Shirzanan mission---and to Jordan for a journalism workshop in partnership with Chime For Change's Managing Editor Mariane Pearl during the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in October.
Your donation will support the initiatives of our Ambassadors and other Muslim female athletes who are forging paths for themselves and generations to follow.
Please help us:
- to promote the Athlete Ambassadors as role models through stories and images, to challenge stereotypes exacerbated by mainstream media, and to develop cross-cultural understanding;
- to strengthen their advocacy skills through leadership and communications training sessions; and
- to mentor and share professional contacts who can support their sports empowerment efforts.
Your donations will specifically cover:
- travel to and within America---as presenters and attendees of sports and human rights events where they may promote themselves as pioneers, their work and the Shirzanan mission;
- travel to Amman, Jordan---as subjects for a journalism and digital storytelling workshop led by Chime For Change Managing Editor Mariane Pearl;
- advocacy training workshops in leadership and communications, including digital, media and English language; and
- and promotional videos for each Ambassador.
Visit our ADVOCACY page to see the people and places where we have promoted our mission, including
- the White House State of Women Summit
- the United Nations
- Meredith Corporation in Iowa
- Human RIghts Watch and
- the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy!
FIVE of our Ambassadors were featured in this article by Mic.com:
Meet the Athletes Shattering Stereotypes About Muslim Women in Sports
HOW DID THESE WORLD-CLASS WOMEN MUSLIM ATHLETES BECOME SHIRZANAN ATHLETE AMBASSADORS?
Shirzanan hosted an epic cross-cultural exchange that united Muslim athletes and native Iowans from the 7 nations of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and America on a 7-day, 462-mile bicycle #RideForRights across Iowa (known as RAGBRAI).
Team Shirzanan promoted female sports participation as a human right leading to gender equality---and received widespread media coverage.
READ background on how Team Shirzanan originated with childhood friends from Iowa who decided to celebrate their milestone 50th birthday with a physically-challenging and socially-meaningful endeavour...and a great piece by The Des Moines Register's Rekha Basu who covered our unprecedented Sports, Media and Equality panel discussion at Drake University.
TEAM SHIRZANAN 2017 - Our partnership with Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy
Read about Shamila Kohestani - the first captain of the Afghan women's national team and a great friend of Shirzanan. She introduced us to Athlete Ambassador Hajar Abulfazil and to Julie Foudy whom she met in 2006 when ESPN honored her efforts in Afghanistan. Both Shamila and Hajar have attended the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy and it is our honor to join forces in Summer 2017 by hosting future Athlete Ambassadors at the New Jersey location.
A message from Shamila:
Cross-Cultural Soccer Exchange with Female Muslim Athletes
Soccer has been and always will be a huge part of my life, and I credit the game with helping me become the woman that I am today. When I left Afghanistan to attend the 2006 Julie Foudy Soccer Leadership Academy (JFSLA), I came from a deeply conservative society where women are encouraged to remain silent. It was at JFSLA where I first learned that if I worked hard and believed in myself, my potential was endless. I felt that I had finally found a place where I was encouraged to speak, compete against my peers, and utilize my leadership abilities. Julie Foudy is an incredible leader. You may remember that she was the captain of the Mia Hamm era U.S. Women’s Soccer Team that won two Olympic Gold Medals and two World Cup Championships. Julie is now a commentator for ESPN and for the Olympics. More importantly, she has been a dear friend of mine for eight years. Hajar, a friend of mine from Afghanistan, attended Julie's camp last summer after riding bicycles in Iowa for Team Shirzanan and becoming one of their Athlete Ambassadors.
Shirzanan is the wonderful charitable organization I am working with and Julie invited my friend, co-founder Mara Gubuan, to give a presentation at her camp in July. I heard it was great and the girls were really interested in learning about the Muslim athletes.
JFSLA gave me an opportunity to express myself. Through training, workshops, and mentoring, JFSLA helped me to feel strong enough to set high goals for myself and find the determination to achieve them. For one week, I had the freedom to play soccer without any fear. I can say today that that one week changed the course of the rest of my life. JFSLA gave me the opportunity to meet American soccer players and exchange ideas. It was an eye-opening experience for me to meet so many strong women, and they quickly became my first role models. These women were not only accomplished athletes, but also leaders and intelligent business women.
At the time, I did not think it would be possible for me to ever become as accomplished as they were, but they encouraged me and believed in me. I began to believe more in myself. This year, my birthday wish is to help six Muslim girls from six countries attend the JFSLA camp in the summer of 2017, so they can experience the freedom and personal growth that I experienced firsthand as a JFSLA attendee. I want to enable these athletes to use their voices to initiate change in their communities when they return home. Together, we can train these athletes to become more than soccer superstars. They can become role models and leaders for other women, on and off the field.
In addition to instilling leadership skills in these athletes, we will promote cross-cultural understanding among the American soccer players, Muslim athletes from many nations, and within Muslim society. By enabling these six girls to attend JFSLA, we are working to advance familiarity with, and greater acceptance of, women playing sports. We hope this will lead to even more women finding their voices and self-confidence. For my birthday this September, I will not be asking for clothes, a cake, or a party. Instead, I am asking for something much more close to my heart. This year, I wish to send these girls to JFSLA and for them to experience the place that helped make me who I am today.
I’d be grateful for any help you may be able to offer to make my wish come true. JFSLA has already started making my wish come true by providing scholarships to the athletes. We need to raise funds for their travel costs, such as flights, visa fees, and ground transportation.
Shirzanan and I need your help to make this happen.
Shirzanan means "female heroes" in Persian, and is a nonprofit project of Non-Stop Media. They rely on grants and donations to deliver their services to the public. Shirzanan's focus is on media and advocacy for female Muslim athletes like the young women I wish to bring to JFSLA next summer. I will be the project manager of this cross-cultural exchange and will be working closely with Mara.
Your donation will be directed to their 2017 cross-cultural exchange if you donate under my name. Please support and share.
Sending my love and appreciation, Shamila
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING SHIRZANAN!
If you prefer to donate by CHECK, please make payable to our parent non-profit organization:
260 Rogers Ave, #3
Brooklyn, NY 11225