Raptors launch team-branded hijabs in fan outreach

The International Basketball Federation and FIFA lifted bans on head coverings in recent years. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 September 2019

Raptors launch team-branded hijabs in fan outreach

  • The Raptors say they are the first NBA team to offer an athletic hijab for Muslim women
  • The International Basketball Federation and FIFA lifted bans on head coverings in recent years

TORONTO: The Toronto Raptors say a new line of team-branded hijabs is part of an 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 Friday.

The Raptors say they are the first NBA team 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.

The women regularly play basketball at a community court associated with the team. Ferguson told The Canadian Press the Raptors want to send a message of inclusion to its diverse fan base, which grew substantially during last season’s run to the team’s first NBA title.

“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 by phone.

The International Basketball Federation and FIFA lifted bans on head coverings in recent years. The National Council of Canadian Muslims praised the Hijabi Ballers for spurring the Raptors to act. Mustafa Farooq, the council’s executive director, acknowledged that the issue of hijabs in sports has proved divisive. Opponents have called them 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.”


Lankan Cricket team arrives in Pakistan after a decade

Updated 55 min 23 sec ago

Lankan Cricket team arrives in Pakistan after a decade

  • Pakistan promised top-level security for Sri Lankan team
  • Two test matches will be played at Rawalpindi and Karachi

ISLAMABAD: Sri Lanka’s cricket team arrived in Pakistan on Monday to play two-test series that will be the first test in Pakistan in over a decade.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in 2009 before the team came under terrorist attack at Lahore and the doors to international cricket were closed on Pakistan.
The test series in Pakistan was made possible after Sri Lanka toured three months ago and played an ODI and a Twenty20 series at Karachi and Lahore without any security trouble.
Pakistan’s government has promised top-level security, normally reserved for heads of state. The two test matches will be played at Rawalpindi and Karachi.
A security force of over 4,000 security, including policemen from Punjab province and the Pakistan Army, will be deployed around the Pindi Cricket Stadium where the first test starts on Wednesday. Karachi will host the second test from Dec. 19-23.
Pakistan Cricket Board’s director cricket operations Zakir Khan welcomed the Sri Lanka team members at Islamabad International Airport before the team drove to the hotel amid tight security on Monday.
Sri Lanka suffered a setback just before the departure from home when fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was ruled out due to dengue fever. He was replaced by Asitha Fernando, who has played for Sri Lanka’s under-23 and emerging teams.
The team will be led by Dimuth Karunaratne and include seasoned players like Angelo Matthews and Dinesh Chandimal. The three players were among 10 high-profile Sri Lanka cricketers who refused to tour Pakistan three months ago due to security concerns.