Trailblazing Athlete Earns Accolades
Golfer Sahra Hassan leads by example for fellow female Muslim athletes.
The hustle and bustle of a life dedicated to sport. A career of competition using precise skills with the dream of one day being unveiled as the latest poster child for Adidas, or standing on the winners’ podium to receive an Olympic gold medal. Becoming a professional female athlete is not a career most parents have in mind for their daughters. It is still an unconventional path — especially in a sport like golf, which is mainly dominated by men.
Sahra Hassan, a 24-year-old Welsh Muslim from Newport, Wales, smashed stereotypes and broke cultural barriers after making her pro debut in the women’s golfing circuit at the 2009 Indian Open. This year she paved a clear path for future female Muslim athletes by being named UK Sportswoman of the Year by the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation, after achieving new records in golf in Wales, Great Britain and Europe.
Growing up admiring athletes such as Tiger Woods, Annika Sörenstam and the Williams sisters, Sahra discovered her immense talent for golf through an early love of sport. Her passion was sparked at the tender age of two, when she went with her sisters to watch their father’s squash matches. It didn’t take long for her to showcase her precocious ability. Her raw talent shone through when she picked up a racket and hit the balls with consummate ease for a girl of her age. The display amazed her friends and family.
‘Ever since I can remember I was either hitting squash balls, cricket balls, tennis balls or golf balls,’ she reveals. ‘So I always knew I was going to do sport.’
Although she started playing tennis at the age of four, winning a number of Welsh titles by the age of 13 in the process, it was during a trip to the golf course with her father that she discovered her talent for the sport and had to choose between pursuing golf or tennis.
‘It was then that I started taking an interest in golf as my dad played — and I never looked back. I was playing county golf by the age of 14, then international golf at 15.’
It was a wise decision in the end. She began to ply her trade as a serious female golfer by entering the Ladies European Tour and tours on the Asian circuits. She also represented Wales and Great Britain in various championships. Before turning pro in 2009, Sahra won second spot in the European Nation’s Cup and was the winner of the 2005 Welsh championship.
A modest and talented Sahra was caught off guard when she was given the honors of UK Sportswoman of the year by the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation. ‘I didn’t expect to win,’ she beamed. ‘I hadn’t even prepared a speech!’ The UK-based foundation believes that faith and sport are completely compatible, and that sporting culture is a vital part of Islamic history.
Sahra hopes that her achievement will encourage more young Muslim women to chase their athletic ambitions. Along with her ultimate goal of being the best female golfer in the world, she also wants to prove that young Muslim, Asian and Welsh girls can remain rooted in their culture, principles and religious beliefs while charting successful career paths in professional sport.
The Curse of Constant Competition in C’est La Vie
Saudi Woman Tops Everest as Country Warms to Women in Sport in Mighty Muslimahs
Sports Hijabs for the Active Muslimah in Shopping
Female Saudi Olympians Exit Quickly, Inspire Hope in Global Snapshots
My Journey from Teacher to Headhunter to Entrepreneur in C’est La Vie
Women Prefer the Olympics in Cosmopolitan Living