Toronto Raptors launch line of team-branded athletic hijabs

Raptors become first NBA team to offer an athletic hijab for Muslim women

A Toronto Raptors branded Nike hijab is shown in this undated handout photo. The team’s parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, unveiled the Nike Pro hijabs emblazoned with the team logo in a social media post on Sept. 13. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - MLSE) A Toronto Raptors branded Nike hijab is shown in this undated handout photo. The team’s parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, unveiled the Nike Pro hijabs emblazoned with the team logo in a social media post on Sept. 13. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - MLSE)

The Toronto Raptors say a new line of team-branded hijabs is part of a broader effort to be more inclusive to fans of all cultures.

The team’s parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, unveiled the Nike Pro hijabs emblazoned with the team logo in a social media post on Friday.

In doing so, they say the Raptors became the first team in the National Basketball Association to offer an athletic hijab for Muslim women.

MLSE Senior Marketing Director Jerry Ferguson says the organization was inspired to create the hijabs by a local Muslim women’s organization known as the Hijabi Ballers.

Ferguson says MLSE designed the gear in collaboration with the women, who regularly play basketball at a community court associated with the team.

He says the Raptors want to send a message of inclusion to its widely diverse fan base, which grew substantially during the playoff run that saw the team win its first NBA championship earlier this year.

Ferguson says having hijabs available to female Muslim athletes who wish to wear them allows the team to send a message of tolerance.

READ MORE: Toronto Raptors and their diverse team celebrated worldwide

“One of the things that we are very interested in is moving from saying we are just about inclusivity and accessibility, and finding ways to bring products and ideas to market that actually prove that,” he said in a telephone interview.

Ferguson says the hijabs, available only at the team’s official store at its downtown Toronto home arena, allows female Muslim athletes to wear gear supporting their team while taking part in their sport of choice.

Doing so, he said, emphasizes that basketball courts should be places where all feel welcome and included.

The Hijabi Ballers seconded the message, welcoming the branded hijabs as a symbol of empowerment.

“Our goal … is to ensure Muslim girls and women feel like they belong on those courts, in the mainstream sports world and restating the idea that sports are for everyone, no matter your beliefs,” founder Amreen Kadwa said in a statement.

Hijabs geared towards Muslim women athletes have been gaining traction in recent years.

While smaller manufacturers of athletic hijabs existed long before, Nike made headlines in 2017 by announcing plans to start marketing its own version.

The International Basketball Federation and the international soccer organization FIFA lifted bans on head coverings in recent years.

The Raptors-branded hijabs represent the first time MLSE has offered such a product, Ferguson said.

The move was celebrated by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which praised the Hijabi Ballers for spurring the team to action.

Executive director Mustafa Farooq acknowledged that the issue of hijabs in sports has proven a divisive issue, with opponents disclaiming it as a symbol of oppression.

“It’s hard for me to understand that,” Farooq said.

“One of the beautiful things about sports is that everyone can play. Highlighting that … everyone should get a shot is such a beautiful thing to do, so obviously we thank the Raptors for taking this step.”

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Quebec status of women minister says Muslim women shouldn’t wear a hijab

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Disaster Aid Canada Receives $60,000 in Donations for Australian Bushfire Relief

Rotary Clubs in the affected areas will be able to apply for rebuilding funds for local projects

Vehicles and welding machines recovered from theft at Geo-Tech Industries

Suspects still not identified from early Tuesday morning break-in at Crofton business

Ladysmith Maritime Society replacing 800-feet of dock at Ladysmith Community Marina

Work on the dock is ongoing, and expected to finish by April 2020

Wonderettes bring the fun while belting out the hits

Four-part harmonies in Chemainus Theatre production sure to be music to your ears

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read