The female basketball team of Islamic Republic of Iran is featuring in an international event for the first time in 38 years following a rule change on head covering.
The team is participating in the 3×3 basketball event at the ongoing 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which made the rule change, has earlier had rule 4.4.2 stating that players were not allowed to wear equipment which can cause injury to other players.
Hair coverings and hair accessories were not allowed, though the rules permit wearing of hair bands with a maximum of five centimetres (cm).
Due to the rule, the Qatari women’s basketball team withdrew from the Asian Games in South Korea in 2014 when they were not allowed to play with their hijab on.
The hijab is is a veil traditionally worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest.
After series of complaints, the world body in May 2017 changed the rule permanently to give players the ability to wear religious headgear during competitions.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Mohammad Mohammadisedehi, a journalist with an Iranian newspaper, told newsmen that the team was happy with the development.
“For 38 years, there have been no international competitions for them. But they are happy now, and we welcome the development.
“The Basketball League of Iran is usually held and Iranian women play with the hijab without difficulty.
“The team so far have been performing well and we hope to win a medal with the team in the semi-finals,’’ Mohammadisedehi told NAN.
Newsmen report that at a total of 65 countries, including 19 from the Oceania region and a refugees team from Kenya, are taking part in the tournament featuring 21 sports.