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What it takes to tackle coaching

As a mother to three beautiful boys, the first things we played with were in fact footballs. My children are all keen footballers and my eldest even has a YouTube channel called the indoor freestyler where he shows football skills and does challenges from home and yes, he does break things and no, I do not recommend ball games indoors!

However, I’ve always loved playing football, and as a child I spent my summers playing at the local park, which we fondly called ‘Red Pitch’, with my brother and other children in our area.  I stopped playing football as a young girl due to cultural pressures because football had always been seen as a ‘man’s game’.

I later rediscovered the sport when I went to University although the numbers of girls interested was so low that in the end I just joined the gym and forgot about playing as I thought there was no demand for it. Nonetheless here I am today a qualified level 1 Coach!

This came about when I got involved with the Football Association Level 1 (FAL1) through my organisation, Muslimah Sports Association (MSA).  I was persuaded to take part by our Chair, Yashmin Harun, who is always looking to invest in the people around her. Roughly six months prior to starting the course I had started playing football again which reminded me how much I enjoyed the beautiful game and how good it felt to get fitter. So although I had my reservations and was apprehensive about how the course would work, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved in something centred around my passion even though it was frowned upon amongst my community (I knew other women from similar backgrounds shared this problem).BHM 860X310mm header 2016

The FAL1 helped rekindle my love for football, and I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience which I felt was perfectly tailored for me. The coach that trained us, Louise, was truly inspirational and shared many common barriers that we all faced including being a mother.

Louise became a coach when women’s football was seen as small scale and football still had the stigma of being a ‘man’s sport’. Although attitudes may not have been in her favour, she remained dedicated to spreading her knowledge and involving other women in the sport, gradually breaking down the barriers that society had formed. She was there to coach for the love of the game and teach children, including her own.

Throughout the course she was not only professional and very supportive but very accommodating too which was well received as quite a few ladies on the course were mum’s too, and Louise knew first-hand of the issues that we had all faced. Being a parent would often make attending sessions difficult, but our coach was aware of issues such as childcare, and so would be flexible, she also allowed a child to sit in with us until they were collected during one session. This all helped to make the course easy, and less stressful for us all.

The course was split into theory and practice, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. When I started I was already coaching my students football as part of the National Curriculum, however FAL1 taught me additional mentoring aspects of the game that I had not previously considered such as how we play and how we support others.  We also learnt things about ourselves such as how we interact with others and how easy it was to get on with people from different backgrounds, as well as different ages (the youngest student on the course being around college age, to the oldest around 40 years old) simply because we have the same goal in mind as well as the same passion for the game. It was great to meet new people who quickly became a network of friends I can call on.

We did a range of practises on the course, from passing to scoring and everything in-between and we had a rich variety of coaching styles to work with.

four corner model

We were also introduced to the Football Associations Four Corner Model which I thought was a unique and effective teaching tool which, due to its adaptability, can be applied to any sport. I have since used this in regular teaching as I was so impressed by how the model covered the main areas which add to the development of an individual. 

After finishing the course a huge number of fantastic opportunities have opened up to me. I am currently being mentored and occasionally co-coach our ladies football night on a Friday which is run by MSA.  I am also really excited to be fully coaching a ladies session in partnership with Leyton Orient Football Club as I feel that with the amount of resources and support provided by an official Football Club, I can only  thrive. Lastly, I have just been approached to run a girls session and after school club for girls.  So all in all it was a truly positive experience which I would highly recommend to anyone considering this course.

The highlight of this journey for me has been my realisation of women’s football and with these new initiatives things will only get better.  I am really proud to be part of this and look forward to seeing more fruitful partnerships which will help people to try new things in future. I am also humbled by the ample opportunities’ available if you are willing to look.  I consider myself in a privileged position to help the next generation of girls realise aspirations and dreams that my generation could not have.

The FA and all the people that were involved in this venture have broken down some barriers which have created new pathways for the future and I have now learned that this sport isn’t just for one gender, it is for everyone!

Football is a passion in my household and my husband, alongside local dads, has recently started up an initiative called ‘Dads and lads’ where local dads go and have a kick about in the park with their sons. I have been thinking of an initiative similar to this for mums and their kids but it’s still only in my head.  Watch this space….

Post Author: Reha Ullah


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My Journey… FA Level 1 Coaching Football

As a youngster I used to play football with the children around the area. I used to go home after school grab a snack and meet outside and play football on the streets until it got dark. At the age of 14 my parents didn’t think it was it right for me to be playing football with boys it was a combination of religious and cultural reasons. It was not normal for an Asian girl at my age playing football and especially with only boys. I respected my parents’ decision as I was up against stigma myself from some of my relatives and thought it was time to stop playing. I missed playing so much that I looked to see if there were only female clubs where I could play, I did manage to find one but the coach was male so I was unable to join. There were too many religious and cultural barriers I was facing I decided to accept that I was not going to continue playing football.

As the years went by I missed playing football. I have three children and always have a kick about with them in the park. One day as I was browsing through my Facebook a suggested paged popped up, it was MSA (Muslimah Sports Association) I opened the page and the first post was FA LEVEL 1 course 3 spaces available. I thought to myself is this meant to be, like a sign, I contacted them and registered. This was a chance for me to do something I am passionate about, it was also my opportunity to break down the cultural barriers’ and inspire women and girls to play football.04

The FA level 1 course was tailored well. It took place once a week on Saturday mornings. As a mother of three at first, I was unsure about taking up my Saturdays as it was the only day my children didn’t have anything happening so family time with them would be affected. But the course started at 9.30 and finished at 2pm so I still had most of the day to spend with them and after 3 consecutive Saturdays we had one Saturday off which was good. The course took place in Al Medina Mosque and our tutor took a break around the prayer time and allowed those who wanted to pray to do so.

After I got my coaching qualification, the following week I volunteered with the MSA. I coach alongside another coach on Fridays with females 12 years and over. I have been coaching every Friday since October, this has given me confidence and I have been able to pick up new things and improve as a coach.01

Yashmin from MSA messaged everyone who did the level 1 course and told us there was a paid coaching job available at Frenford club. I was interested so I contacted them and I was given the role. I started on 13 January and I will be coaching under 8’s until May and then a few days in June. For my first two sessions I was supported by another coach. This Saturday will be my 3rd week and I will be running the whole session on my own with my own games and drills. The coach who is helping me said they will support me on my journey, and if I would like to progress they will put me on the FA level 2 course. The FA have also been very supportive and are helping me to progress as much as possible.

The FA Level 1 course has been the best decision I have made. I am passionate about football and I want to see more girls and women, especially within the BAME, coaching and playing football. Hopefully I can inspire women and tackle the low levels of sporting participation among female minority ethnic groups, I hope my story empowers women to push the boundaries and break down the barriers that we have to face.


For more information visit London Sport or the Essex FA

Read our blog post on the FA level 1 coaching award in Redbridge

Guest author: Yasmin Hussain

If you’d like to become a guest writer, fill in our simple form.

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Could more women Bend it like Beckham? 15 inspirational Asian women achieve FA level 1 coaching award

Women’s football in Redbridge and surrounding boroughs should shortly start reaping the benefits of having fifteen newly qualified Asian women coaches in the borough.

In a bid to help tackle low levels of sporting participation among female minority ethnic groups in the London Borough of Redbridge, 2017 saw Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure work with a coalition of leading sports bodies and partners and in collaboration with Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) to successfully support 15 Asian women through a 6-month project resulting in them achieving their level 1 FA coaching award.

Yashmin Harun, Chair of MSA, attributes the success of the project to the commitment of all the partners involved who were able to create a tailored course providing targeted support to this group of women enabling them to develop their specialist football coaching skills.

The MSA were proud to be involved with such a pioneering project which has resulted in more ethnic minority female coaches for London. It is hoped that as a result of this course, Asian women will feel empowered to push the boundaries and try football and other sports.

SportsTeamMosque14Dec17 (02)Pictured: Yashmin Harun, Chair of Muslimah Sports Association and
Mark Healy, Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure

Special thanks go to London Sport and the Essex FA for championing the project and to the FA and the Black, Asian Coaches Association for their support.

London Sport’s Specialist Advisor for Workforce, Dean Nevill was delighted with the success of the project and said that he hoped this can now be adapted as a model to support more people across the whole of London to become community champions of physical activity, and contribute to a more active London now, and in the future.

Andrew Crowl, Coaching Development Officer from the Essex FA was looking forward to supporting these ladies on their continuing coaching journey, whilst Cindi Chatha, Equality & Inclusion Officer felt that the ladies were not only inspiring to others within their community, but are role models to the next generation of females from a BAME background.  She hopes that reading about this will inspire others to actively participate within football.

Watch this space to find out how our newly qualified coaches are faring as they take their first steps into sport coaching!

For more information visit London Sport or the Essex FA

Post Author: Mark Healy, Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure




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Us Girls Rock!!!

Us Girls took to centre stage last Saturday (8th of March) to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014. All across Redbridge events were taking place in aid of this important day, from suffragette walks to movie screenings to lectures and books readings – we had it all! Us Girls took an energetic approach to their celebrations and gathered over 100 women and girls to take part in their special activity day ‘Us Girls Rock’.

Dressed in their free Us Girls Rock t-shirts the ladies got stuck in with events including: Zumba, Boxfit, Rebounding and Rounders. A chill out area providing free massages was set up to allow participants to calm down and unwind after a vigorous day of exercise.

You can check out footage of the Zumba Flash Mob here:

The day was a huge success and Us Girls are excitedly looking forward to doing it again in the future. Well done to all the lovely ladies that got involved! Here’s to another successful International Women’s day! The battle for equality continues.

Post Author: Emily Polling

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Championing Strong Female Voices: International Women’s Day – The power of unity amongst women

Observed since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day remains a prominent day of appreciation and celebration of women’s progression and achievements throughout history. Spanning from social to political and economic issues, women who were previously denied voices, began to emerge and demand recognition, in aspects including a woman’s right to vote and equality in the workplace. It is undeniable that society today owes a great deal to the sacrifices and determination of women’s groups and campaigns for an improved and fairer society. History has seen the impact and importance of women working together to achieve something beneficial to all.

A perfect example of the advantages of unity amongst women is the way they stand behind multiple campaigns for breast cancer awareness. One of its campaigns include bra banks, in which women can deposit their old bras in one of these nifty bright pink banks and they will be sent to Africa to aid their textile industry and improve lives of many families involved. Not only this, but it raises money for research into breast cancer, and if that wasn’t enough, it is also a good way of the bras avoiding an eternity confined to a landfill site. This is such a monumental campaign as it not only highlights the power of unity amongst women but it shows how this unity can have a positive and long lasting impact on life, not just in the UK.

The bra banks also help women in their openness about breast cancer, by just seeing women donating their bras in that iconic pink box can make a world of difference and bring a sense unity to the suffering that comes with breast cancer.

The Big Bra Hunt by Oxfam UK is another opportunity for women to give their bras a new lease of life either in the UK or all the way in Senegal where they are sold through their social enterprise, Frip Ethique. The money goes to battling poverty throughout the country and around the world. While The Big Bra Hunt may be misinterpreted as going against women’s rights, Oxfam claim ‘All communications around the campaign are designed to avoid objectifying women’s bodies or sexualising bras’. It is absolutely vital that it is the hard work of the women in this campaign that is illuminated and remains at the heart of the project. In fact, it is interesting to point out that it is the women on the front line of Senegal’s social enterprise that request the bras, as they are the most valuable items when it comes to selling them on to the local markets.

So, by keeping up the donations of bras over here, we can do our bit to support the women of Senegal by securing their employment and bettering their lives through the social change brought about the monetary investment made to fight poverty.


1)    Oxfam quote and information found at:


Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

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Championing Strong Female Voices: International Women’s Day

A friend mentioned to me the other day that although he had really enjoyed his school days, he did not know many women who had said the same. Generalisation though this is, it nonetheless seems to be one that holds some water. I’m sure there are arguments to be made attributing this to the differing ways boys and girls often handle stress, and the varying effects of hormones once puberty hits, but I believe there is a strong case to be made for many of the problems coming down to the differences in the way society treats the genders. More specifically, I think the problem lies in the ways we are taught to treat each other.

The UN theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (celebrated on March 8th all across the globe) isEquality for Women is Progress for All’. Although I’m glad this sentiment is finally being given centre stage, it’s well over-due. It’s easy to stand on your soap box, preaching about oppression of and lack of opportunities for women whose own countries, own religions, own families are seemingly against them, but the reality is that we are far from getting it right ourselves. Not to mention how far our tabloid-soaked society is from really understanding the complexities in the assumed oppression of certain women. Does this mean we shouldn’t consider any women to be oppressed? No, of course not – there are so many women out there desperately needing help. Does this mean, from a wealthy, white male-orientated societal position, that we should assume all women, for instance choosing to cover their hair and faces, are oppressed? Again no, of course not. You can’t tell with just a glance and a quick generalisation why a woman chooses to present herself in a certain way. And again, we are far from being in a position to make such judgements. We are bombarded by images of surgically-enhanced and photoshopped women flaunting their assets whilst we proclaim them to be the pinnacle of desirability, and yet a woman attempting to emulate that in real life will be subject to abuse and victim-blaming.

This brings me back to my original point, that I think what we’re teaching in schools is the real crux of the matter. Schools – particularly senior schools – reflect the wider social conditions of their locations, as well as holding a mirror to the country as whole. Perhaps the problem is not only that there simply isn’t enough emphasis on equality, but that there are not enough discussions taking place about the nature of the society we grow up into. The problem won’t disappear overnight, but if it was a compulsory part of the national curriculum to study and understand things like gender differences and choices, alongside sexuality and sexual identity, then hopefully understanding would turn into respect. Understanding and respecting someone’s choices doesn’t mean that you have to make those choices yourself, but it does remove the stigma and fear that accompany the unknown.

This then, should be where accurately teaching Feminism comes into play. The first and most important – and most commonly misunderstood or ignored – aspect of Feminism, is that it is far greater than just being an argument for women’s rights. Feminism is not just designed to benefit a certain group of women, but to benefit everyone, even those resistant to its changes. As the UN puts it; ‘Equality for Women is Equality for All’. In real terms, equality for women means happier, and therefore more productive, workplaces; better educated women with more earning potential, who in turn spend more money and help to drive the economy; happier and more equal home lives, thereby relieving the pressure on men who often feel that society dictates it’s up to them to shoulder the burden of familial responsibility; and the general opening up of equality for everyone. If women can gain their equality, then how can equality ever be denied to anyone else? And if in schools we thoroughly teach the basic necessity for equality and for treating each other with respect, perhaps that will stop some of the problems causing women to look back on their school days as less-than-happy. If we can remove the imagined need to fight amongst ourselves over the things society dictates women ought to obsess over – principally attractiveness, appearances and men – then perhaps we can all move forward together as a society. Once again, ‘Equality for women is Equality for All’, and we still have a long way to go.


Post Author: Jessica Polling. 

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We go live on the National Lottery!

Last Saturday our very own Active4life co-ordinator Gemma Tully was invited to appear live on the National lottery! Alongside three other ecstatic girls (Anne-Marie Asenso, Amina Akbar and Madhuri Joshi), Gemma represented the Redbridge arm of ‘Us Girls’.

Already tingling with excitement the lucky four waited apprehensively for their lift to arrive. Who would be picking them up? What vehicle would they get? How many stars were they likely to see wandering around the television studios?

Suddenly a glamorous people carrier, complete with blacked out windows, pulled up outside. Was this for them? Nervously the girls exchanged glances. Surely this type of car was reserved for celebrity transportation?

A darkened window rolled smoothly down and they were greeted with a smile and an assurance this vehicle was for them. Tumbling into the car, Gemma and co were treated to a luxury trip complete with free drinks and private Wi-Fi.

At about 5pm the girls arrived at Pinewood Studios and were swiftly taken to their Green Room. ‘There were sofas, cushions, a huge TV, fruit baskets, refreshments, sweets and snacks. We were loving it!’ said an overjoyed Gemma. ‘After a briefing about the day and chatting with the other people appearing on the show, we sat down with the stylist who helped us all put together our outfits for the show. Then we had our hair and makeup done and went straight to rehearsal.’

Radio 2 DJ and National Lottery host Chris Evans greeted everyone before running through the show, which our girls were particularly happy about. ‘After the rehearsals it was straight back to the green room for a quick dinner and final touch ups, then to the studio for our live broadcast!’  Exclaimed Gemma.

The show went ahead flawlessly and the knackered girls were chauffeured home.  After recovering from the whirlwind adventure into television and glitterati Gemma told us, ‘We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, it was brilliant!’

Well done ladies, it was a great show and you did us all proud!

Post Author: Emily Polling

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