A 14-year-old was told she couldn’t play volleyball because of her hijab. She fought back.
Najah Aqeel got a rule changed for volleyball players across the country.
Thanks to Najah’s activism, volleyball players across the country will be able to wear religious headwear while competing without getting prior approval, the NFHS announced earlier this month. And in Tennessee, athletes can now compete in any sport while wearing hijabs, Sikh turbans and Jewish kippahs without getting permission ahead of time, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association announced in December.
For Najah, the changes help convey to other hijabi athletes that they, too, belong in sports — not on the sidelines.
“I feel like it makes hijabis that are playing sports feel like they can play sports,” she said. “Sometimes they steer away from sports, because they don’t know if they can wear their hijab, or they don’t know if they can wear sleeves and long pants.”
By Julianne McShane, The Lily