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

Just Posted

Freezing rain warning issued for central Interior Remembrance Day

Highway alerts in place for Begbie Summitt and Pine Pass

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

Isaac Mack BCRA 2019 Bullriding Champion

Mack wrapped up the BCRA season with $12,484.99 in season earnings.

B.C. debate becomes bitter over impact of UN Indigenous rights law

Premier John Horgan cites salmon farm closures as model, opposition points to LNG, contracts

Indigenous-led organizations and province announce initiative to get North Coast communities off oil

First Nations communities from Haida Gwaii to Bella Bella will be eligible

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Most Read