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

Crime stats show a shift in Oak Bay during COVID-19

Thefts from automobiles, marinas up this spring

Eight people arrested on Pandora Avenue after enforcement order issued

Those living in homeless camps were given until May 20 to move indoors

Victoria society purchases addiction recovery home after year of fundraising

Umbrella Society’s Foundation House is a second stage house for men in active recovery

Victoria dealer sells Batmobile replica at Arizona auction

Tim Quocksister sells Batmobile replica for $165,000 US at auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Sidney staff recommends additional outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes

Report before council also leaves open possibility of closing a portion of Beacon Avenue

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Most Read