Female Muslim coach tells others to 'pursue their passions'

Tahira Islam wants to inspire more women and girls into coaching

Tahira Islam wants to inspire more women and girls into coaching - Credit: Run Communications

On International Women’s Day, the only female Muslim coach registered with Cambridgeshire FA is sending a message to local women and girls not to let fears of prejudice deter them from pursuing their passions.

Tahira Islam is assistant coach at Cottenham United Colts FC under-17 girls and has loved her experience since taking up a role at the club.

Also working full-time as a computer engineer, taking up coaching has allowed her to make the most of her love of football. But getting started on the journey wasn’t entirely expected.

Tahira said: “I saw a flier one day at Cambridge Central Mosque, sponsoring a few places for the Level 1 in Coaching Football qualification with the Cambridgeshire FA. So, I took a leap of faith and I signed up. I was the only female to do so, along with another 10 people from the Mosque.

“It was really enjoyable, but after I got my Level 1 qualification in 2019 it took me a while to find a coaching position because everything was a long way from my home, and I needed good transport links.

"I know a coach who used to coach with Peterborough United, and he told me about Cottenham United Colts, who were looking for a female coach for their then Under-16s.”

Following a move to England from Bangladesh in 2017, working as a coach in Cambridge has meant Tahira has become a pioneer for the Asian community, and an inspiration to others to pursue their dreams.

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Reflecting on her coaching experience, Tahira admits it has taken time and hard work to build up the skills and confidence to shine.

“Initially I was nervous and felt a little uncomfortable because I hadn’t done anything like this before and I hadn’t heard of anyone else from my community or background who had gone into coaching either," she added.

“I worked hard because I wanted to make this work for myself and I quickly built social connections with them, so my confidence grew. I am a big believer that football, sport and coaching bring people together. I have personally found that it can help us find unity where there is division.

“My message to other women who may be in my position is that you have to forgive yourself if you can’t always deliver as you’d hoped. The stress of my expectations versus reality was difficult for me at first but if there is a strong support system in place, you will get there.”

That support system is there for Tahira, who wants to encourage more females, and more from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in coaching, and her own role within the coaching space is making it more inclusive and accessible all the while.

To find out more on how to get into coaching, increase your skills, or advance in your coaching role, visit the free #WomenWhoCoach digital toolkit www.ukcoaching.org/Women-Who-Coach-Toolkit.