Young Australian Muslim Assmaah Helal is kicking gender stereotypes and discrimination out of the window as she advocates social change and equality through her love for football.
“I have been leading, advocating & driving sport for social change initiatives since 2009 in Australia and Asia. My years of experience working with young people, refugees and women in a small, resource-limited organisation has enabled me to be creative and strategic,” the 30 year old Sydneysider said.
From a young age, Assmaah developed a passion for football, owing to her family bonding over late-night World Cup matches and her Egyptian father’s persistence to get her and her brothers actively engaged in community sports clubs.
Assmaah now works with the non-profit organisation Football United to give young, newly arrived migrants an entry into the game by providing resources to participate and develop leadership and coaching skills.
“As the Operations program manager, I am responsible for leadership, management and supervision of all aspects of program activities for Football United and Creating Chances and the lead author of the Creating Chances social enterprise and youth development through sport programs,” she said.
In 2014, Assmaah, with Football United, attended the Football for Hope festival in Brazil during the FIFA World Cup. There, she was fronted by many locals amused by her religious background.
“No access to different communities can lead to misconceptions, and sometimes those misconceptions can lead to hatred, confusion or even fear – Australia is a diverse country, a rich tapestry of countries, and sport, when it is done right, can connect communities and provide endless opportunities to meet people different to you.”
Assmaah was nominated by Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Denmark to participate as a member in the 2017 SDG 5 Dream Team, representing gender equality at the Global Goals World Cup in New York.
“I’ve learnt to choose “courage over comfort”. In order for me to grow and better myself, I need to get out of my comfort zone, try new things, be willing to make mistakes and learn from them quickly, then try again.”
Assmaah will be heading to Jordan later this year to play in the lowest record female football match in the Dead Sea with the Equal Playing Field Initiative.