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Hijabis on the soccer field: This teen founded a camp for Muslim girls like her

caption: Noor Aamir, the founder of a soccer camp for Muslim girls.
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Noor Aamir, the founder of a soccer camp for Muslim girls.
KUOW PHOTO/Ayesha Mohammed

On this sunny day, girls of all ages are doing laps around the field — kicking soccer balls, running drills, and living their best lives. Some of the girls wear headscarves. Others wear dresses.

On this field, there is no dress code.

Three years ago, my friend Noor Aamir started a soccer camp for Muslim girls in Bellevue. She wanted to help other girls "play soccer freely with whatever accommodations they need."

Noor has always been obsessed with soccer, and she started playing in middle school. But she struggled to find a soccer club that was a good fit for her.

Noor is Muslim, and covering her head and staying modest are part of her religious practice.

She wanted to wear clothes that fit her identity. But her soccer coach wanted her to wear the team uniform: a jersey with shorts underneath.

Noor was not okay with that.

“For me and my mom,” Noor said, “it was important for me to always wear a dress, clothes that were beneath the knees.”

Noor wasn’t allowed to cover the number on the back of her soccer jersey with her hijab, the traditional headscarf, so she had to tuck her hijab into her jersey. Noor felt uncomfortable with this requirement because that wasn’t how she wore her hijab.

Even with these challenges, Noor still played for the team.

caption: A silhouette of Noor Aamir, tossing a soccer ball.
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A silhouette of Noor Aamir, tossing a soccer ball.
KUOW PHOTO/Ayesha Mohammed

Noor then decided to try out for an elite soccer team.

The tryouts happened during Ramadan. Noor was fasting, which meant she couldn't eat or drink from sunrise to sunset.

“It was really a big struggle to get through tryouts because it was two hours of hardcore running and training,” she said.

Despite those challenges, Noor still made the team.

Unfortunately, Noor’s clothing was an issue for this coach as well.

“They allowed us to wear a shirt underneath their uniform,” Noor said, “but they didn’t allow us to wear dresses. Not even a a long shirt. And that was a problem.”

Noor felt uncomfortable, and she made the difficult decision to quit the team.

But Noor didn’t give up soccer, and she wanted to make sure other observant Muslims didn’t give up either.

Noor and some of her friends, including me, created a soccer camp specifically for Muslim girls.

“Anyone is able to practice and play, however they are," Noor said. "There are no special uniforms. I don’t want them to have the same experiences I did.”

The camp has been running for three years and has remained a safe space for Muslim girls to be themselves.

“Just keep doing you,” Noor said. “Don’t change yourself for other people.”

caption: Noor Aamir coaching at the soccer camp.
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Noor Aamir coaching at the soccer camp.
KUOW PHOTO/Ayesha Mohammed

This story was created in KUOW's RadioActive Intro to Journalism Workshop for 15- to 18-year-olds, with production support from Sonya Harris. Edited by Marcie Sillman.

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