An Iranian Muslim woman, who wears a hijab while playing ladies football, has hailed the open-minded nature of the GAA community.
Mansoreh Abolhassani, who moved to Belfast in 2011 and took up ladies football two years ago, is the subject of a two-part series on BBC Two Northern Ireland titled Níos Mó Ná Cluiche (More Than a Game) which airs on Sunday at 10.30am.
Mansoreh is studying Law at Queens and discovered Gaelic games when she received an email about the University’s international ladies football team. She was keen to try out but unsure whether she would be allowed play without being asked to remove her hijab.
“I was really, really scared from the beginning, even watching and playing Gaelic football, that maybe they would say, ‘with your scarf, it’s not possible’,” she said.
“They gave me lots of confidence because they welcomed me. They didn’t look at my scarf as unusual and didn’t ask me to remove it or ask why I was wearing it. Now, when I meet my Muslim friends I encourage them to play.”
Due to graduate this year, she will no longer be eligible to play for Queens. “My plan is maybe to go to my nearest club. ”
Her intention is to spread the GAA gospel back home and has emailed Iranian authorities requesting permission to introduce the sport in the country.
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