Raptors Announce Branded Sports Hijabs as Part of Inclusivity Initiative


Photo credited to Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images and CNN.

TORONTO, Ca. (CNN) – The Toronto Raptors are taking steps to be more fan-inclusive with the unveiling of their officially branded sports hijabs.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the organization that owns the Raptors, revealed the hijabs in a Twitter video Saturday:

Jerry Ferguson, senior director of marketing at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, told Ted Fraser of the Toronto Star they began developing them following the NBA playoffs.

Hijabs are headscarves worn by some Muslim women that typically cover their head and chest but leave the face uncovered.

The inspiration behind the hijabs came from a May 2019 story in the Toronto Star by Evelyn Kwong and Sahar Fatima about the Hijabi Ballers, a group of Muslim women in the Toronto area who get together to play basketball each Sunday and advocate for Muslim women to take part in sports.

“Hijab is not a preventative piece of cloth,” Shireen Ahmed, a member of the Hijabi Ballers advisory board, told Kwong and Fatima. “Women play any sport you can imagine from basketball to surfing to table tennis to soccer to beach volleyball to para-bocce ball. Wearing hijab is an extremely personal decision. And one that shouldn’t affect an athlete’s ability or right to partake in sport.”

Speaking to the Canadian press (via the Associated Press), Ferguson said the Raptors were interested in “finding ways to bring products and ideas to market” to prove their dedication to being an inclusive organization that supports fans of all faiths.

Nike began selling athletic hijabs in 2017 with the goal of making sure athletes of all faiths were able to participate in sports using a specially designed piece of head wear that allowed them to perform.

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