SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Breaking stereotyping and cultural barriers, a Welsh Muslim young woman has been honored as the Sportswoman of the Year after achieving new records in golf in Wales, Great Britain and Europe.
“I got into sport at a really early age,” Sahra Hassan, a professional golf player, told Wales Online on Saturday, June 9.
“I have represented Wales and Great Britain.”
Sports in ISLAM (Special Pages)
Sahra’s love for sports started when she was only two-years old.
Going with her sisters to watch her father’s squash games, it wasn’t long before she was picking up the racket herself and hitting balls, amazing his friends with her ability at such a young age.
“Ever since I can remember I was either hitting squash balls, cricket balls, tennis balls or golf balls,” admits the 24-year-old from Newport.
“So I always knew I was going to do sport.”
In her early childhood, tennis was the dominant sport.
But when she joined her dad on the golf course she found a natural ability for that game too and by her late teens she had to choose between the two sports.
“I started playing tennis when I was four years old and won a number of Welsh titles by the age of 13,” Sahra said.
“It was then that I started taking an interest in golf as my dad played – and I never looked back. I was playing county golf by the age of 14, then international golf at 15.”
As a teenager, it was the call of the fairway and the golfing green that won through in the end.
“It got to the point where I had to choose between the two sports and I plumped for golf in the end,” she added.
“I played amateur golf for six years at a high level and I was good enough to try pro, so I took a gamble.”
Playing in the Ladies European tour and Asian tours, she has also represented Wales and GB in various championships.
Sahra came second in the European Nation’s cup and first in the Welsh championship in 2005 before turning professional in 2009.
“I’ll see how I go in Europe but I want to base myself in America and join the LPGA tour,” she said.
Choosing a sports career, not always the first choice of young Muslim women, Sahra was backed by the pioneering Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF) which has named her Sportswoman of the Year.
“I didn’t expect to win, I hadn’t even prepared a speech!” Sahra said.
The charity believes that faith and sport for both genders are entirely compatible and that the culture of sport is an essential part of Islamic history.
“It was really special to me because of my dad’s heritage and his family, as they were originally opposed to me going in to sport.
“I also know it will encourage other Muslim girls to follow in my footsteps and think about going into sport.”
Getting “loads of support” from her family, Sahra’s dreams did not stop at European achievements.
“I know a few of my Asian friends who wanted to go into sport but their parents discouraged them and they ended up being doctors or pharmacists.
“I want to prove it to young Muslim, Asian girls and Welsh girls that you can still keep your culture and your principles, religious beliefs and participate in sport and make sport as your career.
“I want to be the best lady golfer in the world.
“And I’d love to see more Asian and ethnic children to take interest in sport, particularly golf. That would be my dream.”—www.www.shafaqna.com