“My parents are from Bangladesh. My maternal grandparents still live there. My husband’s family is from Subid Bazar in Sylhet. My father-in-law runs a business in Sylhet. My husband, children love Bangladesh with all their hearts. I can speak in Sylheti dialect. But my daughters are learning to speak in proper Bangla. They can also recite Bangla poems,” she added.
Yasmin first visited Bangladesh in 1992. She has visited Bangladesh a total of seven times and plans to visit Bangladesh again next December.
2,000 were selected in the primary list to take part in the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay in England. From there, the Games organisers selected nine for the event and Yasmin was one of the lucky ones to make the cut.
Yasmin has been celebrated in Britain as an inspirational figure for spreading football among young girls of the country’s Bengali Muslim community. Last year, she received a community hero award in the prestigious BT Sports Action Women Awards. World’s leading media houses like the Guardian have published reports on Yasmin.
Yasmin aspired to be a footballer. Growing up in Manchester, she used to play football with same-aged boys. But objections from her family dashed her dreams of becoming a footballer.
Reminiscing about her childhood, Yasmin said, “When I was 13, my father called me up one day and said you are growing up now. It’s not right for you to play with boys anymore. A lot of people don’t like this. Stop playing football from now on.” Yasmin’s further said, “Try to find a place where only girls play.”
As per her father’s advice, Yasmin started looking for a women’s football team. But there weren’t any football teams for girls near her locality. Disappointed, Yasmin stopped searching.
Although she had to quit football against her wishes, the love for the game remained in her heart. After getting married in 2002, she came to London with her husband. She stopped thinking about football and started focusing on her new family.
But eventually, she began to feel depressed, “I wanted to do something just for myself. I wanted to do something that I would enjoy. With that in mind, I began football coaching in 2017.”
Her husband also supported her decision. She decided to return to football to create an environment for girls from Muslim communities to take up the sport.
“I had sent my two daughters to learn karate. But after returning from there they would say, we don’t want to do karate anymore. Because, there only boys practiced karate. That’s when I had this realisation that we need to create an environment for girls in our community to take up sports. These reasons inspired me to become a coach.”
After completing a coaching course, Yasmin joined a local club. At first she coached a boys’ team but later she started working to develop a girls’ team.
“At that time I used to feel, I didn’t come here to teach boys. My aim is to teach football to girls. After that I started building a girls’ team in that club. Now, 80 girls play in my club.”
When she was a kid, Yasmin would hear discouraging words from others for playing football. But Yasmin feels the situation has changed now, “A lot has changed in the community. My aunts, who used to dislike me playing football, now encourage me and praise me. Now they say, you have created an environment for our girls to play.”
Yasmin said that in Britain more and more Muslim girls are taking up football, “Even three years ago, it was difficult to convince five Muslim girls to try football. It was difficult to make them interested in football. Now, we have three teams.”
Along with young girls, Yasmin is also encouraging mothers to take up the sport, “If anyone wants to take football as a profession, I will help them. I want to inspire different communities in London. I want to tell them, becoming a mother doesn’t mean the end of their playing days. You can still play or become a coach.”