Germany: Sports Clubs Seek to Attract Young Muslim Women

Germany: Sports Clubs Seek to Attract Young Muslim Women

Via Spiegel:

Although many top German athletes come from immigrant families, very few Muslim girls and women in Germany play sports. Many parents see Western sports culture as a threat and keep their daughters away from coed athletic clubs. But some forward-thinking initiatives show how young female Muslims can be encouraged to take part in sports -- and how it can change their lives.


Many Muslim girls who grow up in Germany are taught that sport isn't for women. Some 68 percent of 15-year-old Turkish boys are involved in organized sports. More than 30 percent of players on the under-17 national soccer team in the German Football Association have Turkish roots. Muslim men wrestle, box and do martial arts. Muslim women, on the other hand, are often told that physical exercise is a waste of time. Particularly fathers from poor backgrounds, who themselves have low educational levels, view sports clubs as places of shameless freedom -- places where their daughters don't belong.

Muslim women are the lost daughters of sports. They are also a good example of how difficult integration can be when people belong to different groups that have widely diverging worldviews.

According to a 2009 study by the Technical University of Dortmund, only 20 percent of 15-year-old Turkish girls in Germany belong to a sports club, compared with 42 percent of German girls in the same age group. In the language of social science, young Turkish women are referred to as a group that is "distant" from sport.