A FEMALE Leicester football coach has been highlighted on International Women’s Day, for the work she has done to explode social stereotypes within sport.
Annie Zaidi, is one of the inspirational coaches, whose stories have been included within UK Coaching’s ‘Women Who Coach’ campaign, which launched today – International Women’s Day (March 8).
Working full-time for Leicester City School Sport and Physical Activity Network as a Senior Female Engagement Officer, Ms Zaidi, also coaches midweek at the West Bromwich Albion Girls Regional Talent Centre, and on Sunday afternoons encourages young girls and women to realise their potential through her Coach Annie Z Foundation.
In 2017, she was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to football coaching.
“If you walked pass me, I look like your average British South Asian Muslim Women, but that’s as far as it goes when it comes to identifying me,” she said.
“Even though I may look like your stereotypical Asian Muslim women due to the fact my head is covered by a headscarf, I am in fact a football coach who lives in her training kit and has more trainers than high heels and loves nothing better than watching Match Of The Day instead of going out with her friends and family on Saturday night.
“There is a place for anyone and everyone in sport and if you can see yourself in that sport, in that discipline, then you have every right to go for it and achieve it,” she added.
Annie’s love for the game started when she was a little girl. With two older brothers it was inevitable that she became a tomboy, she says. However, she has fallen victim to racism over the course of her career, and has even found herself ostracized within her own Asian community.
“My story is not one to make you feel sorry for me for all the trials and tribulations I have and still experiencing as a football coach, but a story of empowerment & determination of a female football coach fighting for equality and respect in a male dominant industry,” she said.
“But being a Asian Muslim Woman who wears a headscarf trying to make it in this industry is the most challenging experience I have experience as not only have I been ostracised from the wider community which was expected but sadly I have to some extent been ostracised from my own Asian community as they perceived me coaching both men & women as a taboo and some regard me as a bad role model within the Asian community. One thing people don’t know about me is that I am a very focused, headstrong determined woman who strives better when people tell me I cant or that I shouldn’t, hence my motto being: They can take my ball away from me but they couldn’t take away my passion!”
UK Coaching is the UK’s leading charitable organisation for physical activity and sports coaches.
Its ‘Women Who Coach’ campaign, brings into focus the many faces of coaching and features empowering female role models of all ages, sports and backgrounds. The campaign is designed to show that anyone can coach, exploding social stereotypes and raising awareness of the benefits of coaching.
To find out more, visit: https://www.ukcoaching.org/
By Louise Steel