Newman student works to increase female engagement in sport

09/01/2019 by Sinead Staunton

Moona Ali, newman student

Moona Ali, 18, is a first year student at Newman University studying Counselling and Working with Children, Young People and Families.

After deciding Newman University was the place for her, Moona through herself into her studies; “I decided to study at Newman, because I heard a lot of positive reviews from previous students. Also the idea of it being smaller than most university, gave me a positive feeling of the university as a whole.

“The main reason for picking Counselling to study is because have always been interested in solving issues and making positives changes in innocent lives. I also chose to studyWorking with Children, Young People and Families because, as part of the adolescence category myself, I feel like they are not getting the professional support they need in order to make use of the things they have and the people around them. I feel like the typical stereotype, of young people being lazy, violent and aggressive, is taking over their capacity and full potential they have as the next generation. Also I feel strongly about young people being on streets, and getting into criminal acts and involved in wrong crowds. Therefore I felt like this course will help me look into ways to prevent this occurrence.”

Before starting her university journey Moona took part in the FA People’s Cup, a free small-sided competition open to male, female and disability players over a wide age range. Moona commented “[The FA People’s Cup] was one of the highlights during my college experience. The reason for this was because it allowed me to play my favourite sport, football,as well as see some incredible talent from young females that I didn’t think I’d see.

“The People’s cup is all about playing many friendly matches with other teams and the top team scorers will be asked to compete against each other for the winning spot. Although winning wasn’t my main goal,I felt like the environments was very competitive, which increased my confidence on the pitch. I was privileged to be up against some astonishingly talented and skilful players, who had challenged my ability, whilst playing.”

Seeing many talented sportswomen taking part in the competition, and making it to the semi-final of the competition, Moona felt inspired Moona to further play her part to encourage young women to take part in sport, something which was recently covered by a BBC article.

Now studying at Newman University, Moona is also completing her coaching badges at the same time, hoping to gain her Level One badge by the end of May. Moona also regularly coaches at a local college which she believes plays a big role in helping reach her aim of changing the stereotype that Muslim women don’t play football. “I coach at part of BYSA (Birmingham Youths Sports Academy),at Saltley Academy ,every Sunday, in order to increase young female participants, a long side 4 other experienced female coaches. This organisation aims to target young participants ages 7-18, to involve them to be a part of something great. The organisation promotes community, leadership and most of all discipline through sport and control, which is the main reason why parents and guardians bring their children every week; to encourage a healthier and active lifestyle for their younger ones at home, which they may not be able to do, due to facilities, space and cost.”

My main aim, in regards to women’s involvement in sport is to increase female participants, as well as those from multi-ethnic backgrounds. This is because I believe that football isn’t a natural talent sport. I feel like everyone has the ability to play football, it’s just a matter of time and practice, as most things are. I feel like if there were an increase in multi-ethnic and female participants in sport, the world would be a much happier and healthier place. Women should feel that they are welcome to play, therefore educational environment and other community centres, should start promoting if not already, female involvement in sport and make it easily accessible for them, in terms of cost, time and setting.”

Newman encourages females to take part in a variety of sports whilst studying, both at a competitive level and an introductory level. Moona commented “I feel like the students at Newman are all wonderful to be around, they are very friendly, hence meeting some beautiful people, who help me throughout lectures, coursework which I’m really grateful for. Also the staff are very friendly, especially my tutor,who I can go to for any support, whether its personal or educational based.”

Moona is part way through her 3 year degree but already has plans for her career once she has graduated from the university, “After my degree, my main goal is to implement physical activities through counselling, whether it be yoga, sports, exercise or something else. Regardless of what it may be, my aim is to increase young people’s awareness through a more active approach and living a more a healthy and active lifestyle, which you don’t see much of in our communities today.

“I believe that counselling doesn’t necessarily have to be psychological. I believe that it could be done through physical events and activities involving non-verbal interaction. This is because I feel like young people, me included, do not find it easy to express our thoughts and feelings through speech, and verbal interactions. Therefore I feel like having activities in place, where talking is not forced, might be the best way to allow young people to express themselves, and release any form of anger and pain they are dealing with. I say this because, I feel like this was the only thing that helped me, growing up in a very judgmental community. This means that not every person who has problems is classed as psychologically distressed, it may just be a youngster, feeling a bit more pressure, due to have more responsibility, than what their use to.”