Montreal’s only soccer league that accepts hijab-wearing teens wrapped up its season this past weekend.
The Muslim Youth Soccer League was created when players were barred from FIFA-sanctioned tournaments because the sport’s governing body ruled that hijabs posed an injury risk to players.
Raghad Abu-Thuraia was one player who found herself excluded after the ruling.
“They’re like ‘maybe because pins could fall off,’ and I was like ‘I can tuck this in I’m wearing like two pieces,’ and they’re like ‘I’m sorry,” said Raghad.
When his sister could no longer play for Pierrefonds, Musab Nabil Abu-Thuraia created the MYSL.
“We started with 50 players and right now we have 250 players ages five and up,” said Abu-Thuraia.
He says that over the past two years, the league has helped unite Montreal’s Muslim community.
“Keep our differences aside, bring our cultures, learn about each other and unite as one community as Muslim-Canadians,” said Abu-Thuraia.
Players like Basma Salame say as a way of meeting other Muslims, the league is very effective.
“I met new people from here and you don’t know how many Muslims there are until you join a community that brings them all together,” Salame said.
“It was all about having fun.”
However the league is inclusive, and open to all players, Muslim or not.
Jessica Avalos plays in the league, and says there is nowhere else she’d rather play.
“No one’s telling you you’re not allowed to do something,” said Avalos. “I really like it, it’s free, open.”