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

Russell selected as B.C. NDP candidate for Boundary-Similkameen

The director for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary was chosen over Oliver councillor Grice.

Education ministry’s COVID plan could do more for SD51, says teachers’ union president

There have been no confirmed COVID cases two weeks into school year

Midway council meeting cancelled after most councillors unable to attend

Councillors gave advance notice, meeting cancelled ahead of schedule

Vanessa Chartier to host all candidates forum at MacArthur Centre

Voters can watch the forum on Facebook Live

Greenwood Board of Trade to hold public meeting at City Hall

The board is seeking input on its proposed all candidates meeting ahead of the city’s byelection next month

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Province’s response to old growth forest report falls short, says Nelson scientist

Rachel Holt says province is saving areas that don’t need protection, ignoring those that do

Most Read