‘I feel like the game of rugby reflects life in general. When you’re tackled in the game you can’t just cry about it and lie down, you have to get back up and continue’.
Hafsa Ur-Rehman is a girl who plays rugby. Now, she wants to help other young women see why this should not be viewed as a strange sentence.
The 18 year old from Halifax has teamed up with Fixers to create a film that challenges gender stereotypes within sport, to encourage girls to pursue their interests without judgement.
‘I faced a lot of discrimination around being a girl, and being Asian and playing rugby.’ She explains. ‘I got ridiculed a bit, like ‘why is she playing, why is she not at home with her parents’.
‘At first my parents didn’t agree with me playing sport, because they were very uncomfortable with it and what other people thought.’
The attitudes of those around her had a detrimental effect on her enjoyment of the sport, making her question whether to keep going.
‘I wanted to stop playing rugby quite a few times. I sometimes would have arguments and sometimes I’d just be like ‘I can’t be bothered with this.’ It got me a bit upset at times.’
But despite the negative attitudes, Hafsa hopes that her film will help others to overcome challenges as she did.
‘I thought that by sharing a bit of my experience, maybe girls will be prepared for challenges, and they’ll be ready and more resilient to try again. There will always be hurdles, but I hope they won’t just give up at the first sight of problems.
‘I want to remove the expectations of society, and I also want to encourage my sisters to get into sport, or anything they really love doing, and show them it doesn’t matter if they get put down, as long as they enjoy it.
'If they think they’re going to be successful in it, then go ahead.’
Her resilience has had a positive impact on her life, and she says she now has the full support of her family:
‘My dad didn’t like me playing sport and I was really reluctant to portray that kind of image of him, but I spoke to him about it and he’s definitely come around after three years of me playing rugby. He came to see my first game this year as well’.
Hafsa also wants to use her film within primary schools, to stop negative gender stereotypes from becoming prevalent from a young age.
'I want to show it to primary school kids and see what they think about it, and showing it to them at a young age might encourage them to be more resilient. Resilience is the key message of my project.’
Hafsa's project was funded by the Wellcome Trust
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.