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UK sending futsal team to Islamic Women's Games in Tehran

London, Aug 26, IRNA-A group of 14 British women are traveling to Tehran next month to compete in the futsal (five-a-side football) competition at the Fourth International Islamic Women's Games.

"These Games have given me the opportunity to represent who I am - a British Muslim - whilst playing a sport that I love," said Samana Fazel, a member of the squad.

"We all understand the importance of our roles and the way in which we can shape the future of sport in the lives of Muslim women all around the country. It's a great honour and a great responsibility," Fazel said.

Another member, Faiza Akmal, said that being part of the squad had enabled her to play "in an environment that does not contradict my religion."

"I am able to show the general British public that Muslim women are empowered," she told the Muslim News, which helped to establish UK's Muslim Women's Sports Foundation (MWSF) in 2001.

Britain became the first non-Muslim nation to participate in the 2001 Third International Women's International Islamic Games in Tehran, when they competed in Badminton as well as Futsal events.

The games have been pioneered by Iran under the vice president of National Iran's Olympic committee and President of the Sports Federation for Muslim Women Faezeh Hashemi.

To clarify the participation of British Muslims in sports a fatwa was issued by the Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, stating it was permissible as long as all religious requirements are fulfilled."

"Religious requirements entail that all activity take place in a female-only environment and no photography be taken where the women are participating, unless they are fully covered," the sheikh said.

British futsal coach, Yolandi Taylor, expressed hope that the team would do well. She felt positive about the training and preparations, and said the girls are "greatly determined and work with an unwavering pride of representing their country."

The Muslim News also reported that two members of the team, Aisha Ahmed and Bilkees Shavji were caught in the rare tornado that hit Birmingham in central England on July 28, while going on a shopping spree for their trip to Iran.

... Payvand News - 8/26/05 ... --

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