British Asian women are being inspired to pursue their dreams in sport.
In a male-dominated industry, women’s participation in sport and physical activity has rapidly evolved over the last decade.
Women and passionate sports lovers from all walks of life have been encouraged to take up sport as a profession and as a means to bring about positive change.
With key role models from the subcontinent and the UK, Asian women from different ethnic backgrounds are being inspired and encouraged to pursue their dreams in sport.
DESIblitz lists some of the Top Asian Women in Sport today:
Sania Mirza ~ Tennis
Perhaps one of the most recognised stars of female sport in South Asia, tennis legend Sania Mirza is the World No. 1 doubles champion.
Married to Pakistani cricketer, Shoaib Malik, Sania is an Indian national treasure and makes as much impact off the court as on.
A fashion icon, she regularly walks the designer runway. Sania has also been applauded for her humanitarian campaigns and even opened her own tennis academy in 2013.
Saina Nehwal ~ Badminton
In March 2015, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to be ranked World Number 1in Badminton.
She is also the first Indian woman to have won the Indian Open Super Series.
Lauded for being a role model for young Asian women, Saina admits her success is due to perfecting her technique and craft – something which has taken a lot of dedication, commitment and sheer ambition.
Ruqsana Begum ~ Muay Thai
Professional kickboxer, Ruqsana Begum is a Muay Thai boxing champion. Ruqsana took up the sport at the age of 18 and finally turned professional 6 years later.
An ambassador for Sporting Equals, Ruqsana initially kept her kickboxing practice a secret from her family, but later found her talent allowed her to pursue it full-time.
The Bengali sportswoman is also a Muay Thai coach for the charity ‘Fight for Peace’ which helps young children and youths from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay away from gangs and gun violence.
Shehneela Ahmed ~ Football Agent
Lawyer Shehneela Ahmed is the first Asian female football agent in the world recognised by the English Football Association (FA).
The Rochdale born woman is keen to promote positive representations of women in sport, especially within football.
Shehneela hopes that more young British Asians can also reach professional level and break down the barriers that many of these young people still face.
Samera Ashraf ~ Kickboxer
Scottish kickboxer, Samera Ashraf is a keen advocate for social integration of ethnic women in sport.
Hailing from a traditional Pakistani family, Samera felt misplaced in her repressive surroundings and wished to pursue something to achieve something out of the ordinary.
As a teenager she raised enough money to take karate lessons in a society where sport was perceived as a male-dominant profession.
Having won numerous awards, Samera is also a successful stand-up comedian where she hopes to encourage women from similar backgrounds to pursue their dreams.
Isa Guha ~ Cricketer and Sports Presenter
Retired cricketer, Isa Guha has enjoyed a successful international career ever since she was discovered at a young age.
Having an immense passion for cricket from very early on, Isa quickly rose the ranks of women’s cricket and represented England 113 times during a spectacular 10-year career.
As of 2011, Isa has been working as a presenter, commentator and cricket pundit for various events, including the popular Indian Premier League.
Mary Kom ~ Boxer
5 time World Amateur Boxing champion, Mary Kom is an Indian force to be reckoned with.
Born and brought up in Manipur, ‘Magnificent Mary’ was inspired to take up boxing in 2000 and won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
She published an autobiography, Unbreakable, in 2013. In 2014, Mary Kom’s life was captured on the big screen by director Ourang Kumar where Mary was played by Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra.
Salma Bi ~ Cricketer
Young cricketer Salma Bi made history by becoming the first British Asian and Muslim woman to play for Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
Salma first started learning the art of cricket at the age of 10, where she used to play with her brothers in the back garden.
Known as the Queen of Speen, Salma has also launched her ‘Believe in M.A.D (Making a Difference’) initiative where she coaches young girls and women as well as raising awareness about disability in cricket.
Sana Mir ~ Cricketer
Captain of the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team, Sana Mir has spent the last 9 years in the Top 20 ICC Player Rankings.
The off spin bowler made her ODI debut in 2005 when Pakistan played Sri Lanka. She later made her T20 debut in 2009 against Ireland Women’ Cricket team.
The 29-year-old is also the first ever female to be awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) for services to cricket. Under her captaincy, Pakistan won a gold medal each at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.
Manisha Tailor ~ Football Coach
A talented Football Coach and FA tutor, Manisha’s story is an inspirational one. Manisha works as an equality worker for Show Racism the Red Card – a initiative which uses star footballers to educate against racism.
Manisha is also keen to raise awareness about mental illness and football. Having been passionate about the sport since the age of 8, Manisha’s world changed at 18 when her twin brother was diagnosed as clinical depression.
She admits that football was an outlet in which to come to terms with her own emotions and set her brother onto the road to recovery.
All of these women mentioned are key inspirations for not only British Asian females, but non-Asian women.
Their achievements and drive to succeed in spite of any cultural difficulty, proves that any young person can change their life and better themselves.