Before she met Abdul-Qaadir, Al-Sabawi wanted to wear the hijab but was afraid doing so would mean sacrificing the sport. Now a freshman at Oakridge Secondary School in Ontario, she has made the decision to wear the headscarf and says she is “no longer afraid of what that means.”
“From Bilqis, I learned that I’m enough, that I don’t need external validation. If we don’t fit into the rules, we don’t give up. We change the rules,” Maryam said.
As for Abdul-Qaadir, she says she doesn’t regret her decision to fight the FIBA rule.
“Now I just live vicariously through the people who did get to play,” Abdul-Qaadir said.
“There’s Batouly Camara playing now overseas in the country I wanted to play in, Spain, and she’s wearing hijab playing under FIBA leagues. I’m halal jealous, in a way,” she joked. “But I love the fact that the door has been opened. I’m proud to say that if it wasn’t for me sacrificing my career and staying strong, she maybe wouldn’t have that opportunity to play.”