On the week of International Women’s Day, Naadrah Hafeez of Huddersfield’s Gladiators Boxing Academy is proud her club has given her “the right environment to thrive” – and wants to encourage Yorkshire’s women and girls to have the confidence to develop themselves.
Naadrah is breaking barriers as a young Muslim female boxing coach, after getting into combat sports at the age of 10 and starting coaching toddlers at just 14 years old.
Finding the sport in her late teens after struggling with her mental and physical health, she was inspired to make it a big part of her life and has followed her passion by studying Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett University.
Naadrah was also selected for the UK Coaching Women’s Coaching Programme in 2021, and is now looking to support and inspire others into overcoming barriers and ensuring coaching and sport environments are inclusive for all.
Now ready to inspire another generation, Naadrah has urged women and girls to have the confidence to ‘go for it’, and begin their personal journey to a coaching or leadership role. She said:
“Don’t be the barrier to your own learning and development. You may face barriers and difficulties, but you have to set your mind to it and go for it. I had coaches who could help me, and we always think things such as, what if, and what barriers will I face, but I wouldn’t focus on that, it’s about overcoming the doubt and trying to see how far you can get.
“Times have changed, and coaching is one of those things where it should never about gender; it’s about inclusivity and finding the best coaches. It gets me through the hard days knowing I can do it, knowing I can beat barriers, knowing I have great support around me, and now I am obsessed to continue to reach my best.”
Reflecting on the support from her club that has given her a fair and encouraging environment to show her skills, Naadrah made it clear her environment has helped her achieve so much; “To be honest, I think I am one of the very few privileged as I haven’t faced any barriers from other people, mainly because I found the right environment at Gladiators. They have been amazing in my learning and development, and I think that’s really important in getting people into sport and coaching, we need to find these places and tell others about them.
“I found the right club that wants to champion me, and they are also championing all individuals into getting into sport. My age, race, religion, was never seen as a barrier, I was instead seen as the future, and that shows that females can coach in an inclusive and welcoming environment. Being a female, it’s important to recognise that we can learn from different genders, ages, races and religions.
That support system is there for Naadrah, 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.