Meet the All-Muslim Girls Team Getting Buckets and Turning Heads | B/Real

♪♪♪ Upbeat synth horns ♪♪♪ – [Kassidi Macak:] I think this team’s legacy is huge. The Muslim girls basketball team that’s dominating. They’re proud of their faith, and they want it a part of their story. A lot of those girls probably don’t think that they are representing something bigger than themselves. They’re high school kids. How unfair is it for them to have to take that responsibility and do it so well every single day. They’ve totally shifted the community’s and now even maybe a national idea of what this team can be— and an all-Muslim team can be. ♪♪♪ Slow synth bells ♪♪♪ [Hallway chatter] ♪♪♪ Slow synth bells ♪♪♪ – [Safiya Schaub:] I’ve been playing basketball since seventh grade. My older brother played basketball, and I went to a lot of his games so, um, my dad was like, you know, “Why don’t you try that?” – [Nadira Ali:] We go out there and we represent more than just a basketball team. We represent our religion. We represent, uh, Salam school. We represent girls. – [Heba Badwan:] I feel like some people do have negative image about us Muslims. They downgrade us even though we’re, like, normal people, you know? We’re out there like normal people. We play like normal people. – [Safiya:] Freshman year, we were kind of a joke almost. The students would say, “Why would we go to one of their games?” We would never really have any support. – [Jumana Badwan:] We took that negativity to, like, positivity. Our record right now—we’re 12-4. ♪♪♪ Slow synth strings ♪♪♪ – [Abdullah Badwan:] The girls program’s only been around for how long? – [Abdullah:] Like, I think it’s five, six years?
– [Jumana:] Yeah. – [Abdullah:] Like, back in—back to last year or two years ago, you guys were just all over the place. But now, everybody’s on the same page and you guys are just rolling. – Yeah. – You gotta give props to the coach, honestly, you know? Cuz they went through, like, a bunch of coaches, and it just never worked out and then she just came out of nowhere. ♪♪♪ Pop keyboard ♪♪♪ – I came, like, the first day of practice, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, we need to practice every day. I’m gonna schedule more games, more scrimmages. We just need to be around basketball more.” I saw the talent the girls had, but it’s just like, they weren’t playing enough. ♪♪♪ Pop keyboard ♪♪♪ Every coach I’ve ever had since I was in third grade has been a man, so for me, a female coach and coaching a female team, I thought it was pretty cool, and I don’t know how much the first two years that they even picked up on how different that is—to have a female coach. There’s not many. ♪♪♪ Pop keyboard ♪♪♪ – [Heba:] Our coach always tells us it doesn’t matter what the score is— as long as we play our hardest, like, we’re good. We’re always pushing for the best, you know? – [Safiya:] She always says, “Think of the controllables.” Sometimes the shots just don’t fall in. So she always says, “Play defense while you move your feet. Focus on the controllables.” – Sometimes I don’t even have to coach cuz they know exactly what they should be doing. [Crowd cheering] – [Safiya:] I would definitely describe how we play as aggressive. Most people, you know, maybe wouldn’t think that we play aggressively, but, yeah, definitely aggressive. – [Leo Schaub:] I think they’re a little bit underestimated. And I would say that in general of the Muslim teams that’s played over the times in Milwaukee. I think that other teams are kind of surprised. – [Safiya:] When they’re warming up, you can tell, like, oh, they’re, like, looking at us while we’re shooting or whatever, and they’re like, just joking around or they’re laughing or whatnot. Coach always tells us, too, she’s like, “Hey, look, they’re not taking you seriously.” It is like a secret weapon in a way. ♪♪♪ – [Collective:] Stars on three. One! Two! Three! Stars! ♪♪♪ – [Rula Sarsour:] Then when we go in, we put all our effort in, and we come out, then they’re surprised, you know? They think, “How do we play wearing a scarf? I never really knew girls could play like this. Especially Muslims.” [Crowd cheering] ♪♪♪ Mellow synth ♪♪♪ – [Zayna Tubeishat:] There are people who are, like, against us, you know, playing basketball. – [Safiya:] We definitely get a lot of stares, and they’re thinking, like, “Oh, there’s actually Muslim girls that play competitively?” – [Zayna:] People see just, like, a religion first because obviously we’re wearing the scarves. – [Nadira:] There’s always stereotypes that are gonna be thrown around. They’ll be like, “Oh, they wear scarves cuz they’re oppressed,” and stuff like that. – [Safiya:] I mean, in my family, where I grew up, it was always, like, the same between, like—
– [Offscreen:] Equal. – [Safiya:] —equal between my brothers and me. Honestly, I love wearing a scarf, and I love my religion. I don’t have a problem with wearing it while I play, and I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel hot. I think right now, like, it’s good they say that we’re a Muslim girls basketball team to kind of create that normalization. Or like, “Oh, look at these Muslims.” It’s not an article about them doing some wrongdoings or whatnot. Instead it’s an article about them doing something great and empowering. Maybe one day we’ll come to a time where that title will be dropped. – But, like, we don’t let it get in the way. We actually, like, try to work harder just to break those stereotypes and prove them wrong. ♪♪♪ Driving beats ♪♪♪ [Crowd cheering] – [Safiya:] As a senior, I think about my relationship with my teammates and how close we’ve gotten. Basketball is just, like, us. This is it. [Background voices] – [Kassidi:] Is anything spicy? Is this spicy? – [Anisa:] No, actually, I didn’t make spicy. Well, for me, it’s not spicy. I don’t know how—how you guys…
[Laughing] – [:] Well, she doesn’t like anything spicy. – [Anisa:] Oh, OK. – [Kassidi:] I’m getting better. I’m getting better. – [Leo:] So I see the brackets came out. – [Kassidi:] Mmhm. – [Leo:] I’m kinda surprised that Salam School is rated 15th in the brackets. – [Kassidi:] Yeah. Last Saturday, I don’t know if you guys know this, but I go to a seeding meeting up in Sheboygan, and all the coaches in that region come in with their season summaries. You sit down and you vote where you think you should be seeded. When we went in, we were 11-4. Just scream out some numbers. Out of 15, what seed do you think you guys should have been? – [Offscreen:] At least like a 9. -At least like an 11? – [Offscreen:] 5. 10.
7. – A 10? 7? I would agree. Somewhere in the middle, right? All the teams voted us last. – What? – [Kassidi:] And I was like, “We’re last? Are you kidding me? Why are you voting this way? Because I need to know. Because if it’s strength of schedule, we beat teams that you have lost to. – We’re rated last, but there are teams with one or three wins. – [Kassidi:] Yep. – And that was it? And we fell behind them? – [Kassidi:] We fell behind them. My opinion is, we’ve always been last. They’ve always voted us last. That’s like a cowardly thing to do, where they don’t have to worry about us. – [Abdullah:] Honestly, as the boys, if we had a 14-4 season, which we don’t, we would be, we would be, very, very, like, we’d probably be at least a third. I feel like it’s just a bias towards them more. – Yeah, it is. – So we play the No. 2 seed in the region on Tuesday, Catholic Central. So don’t let that unfairness dictate how you play. ♪♪♪ Ethereal synth ♪♪♪ – [Kassidi:] Are you guys feeling a little bit of added pressure than any other game? – [Offscreen:] Yeah.
– [Offscreen:] Yes. – [Offscreen:] Kind of. – [Kassidi:] They’re the second seed. They’re expected to win, right? We already know that. Come out strong, with intensity, and never let up. ♪♪♪ Ethereal synth with beats ♪♪♪ [Crowd cheering] ♪♪♪ Ethereal synth with beats ♪♪♪ – [Offscreen:] Come on, guys. We got this! – It’s not about the score! – [Collective:] It’s more than the score! – Don’t give up ladies, do not give up. – [Nadira:] On the court, there’s controllables: You can control boxing out. You can control how well you play. You cannot control the other team. You cannot control the referees. And same thing in life: You can control what you choose to do in a certain situation, but you cannot control what other people think. You cannot control how they will look at you. It’s just how life works. – [Kassidi:] From my first year, you guys have come, like, crazy far. I’m proud of you guys. The whole season you had. And regardless of tonight’s score, that doesn’t reflect who you guys are as players. That team was supposed to be the No. 1 seed in the region, so, pretty monumental task to take down the No. 1 seed in the region, right? – [Offscreen:] Yeah. – So you guys played hard, and I’m really proud of you guys. – I’m proud of you too. – You’re proud of me? I’m trying to create a culture here where the girls basketball team isn’t a joke. No one came to their games. They always lost. They didn’t care about them. And now with them winning, they wear their backpack tags, their sweatsuits. They have pride in their program. Everyone else in the school and the community also has that pride now. – [Safiya:] It’s not just about, like, winning or the score. You know, if I get this many rebounds. – [Kassidi:] The biggest thing I want them to take off the court is being a confident woman. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be or how you should act. You be who you are because you’re confident in who you are. – [Safiya:] I am really proud to go out and play competitively and be one of the only competitive Muslim girl teams in America playing. I love you guys. – [Offscreen:] Love you too. – Love you too. – So. – [Kassidi:] All right. To more than the score. – [Collective:] To more than the score. Yay. ♪♪♪ Synth strings ♪♪♪ – [Kassidi:] I appreciate all the alumni coming back. You guys have definitely helped build a program here. I really appreciate you guys putting in the hard work and dedication every year. So I hope you come back and show them what it means to be a Salam Star. So bring it in. Aaand… – [Sue Bird:] Aight, what’s the cheer? What are we saying? – Oh, my god! – Oh, my god! [Excited chatter and cheering] – [Collective:] One! Two! Three! Stars! [Laughing] – Hey, Sue, Rula can really shoot
– [Sue:] Yeah? so drop her a dime. – Listen, that’s what I do. – [Kassidi:] She’s pretty tall. She’s pretty athletic, so, uh, who’s gonna match up with her? – Not it. – Jenin? Jumana? Yeah! Jumana! – [Sue:] You guys ready? All right, let’s tip it off. Ready? Here we go. [Cheering] – I feel bad. I don’t wanna take any of ’em out. Who wants a sub? You sure? OK. It sounds like one of the things we might have in common is, is some naysayers, right? That’s something that, as a women’s professional athlete, sadly, we face all the time. So whether it’s the stupid comments on Twitter telling us to stay in the kitchen or it’s just people who put us down or try to compare us to our male counterpart. And it’s tough. I mean, I think it’s OK to feel bad about that— and then realize, “No. What somebody else thinks of me? Doesn’t mean anything.” [Cheering] Thank you guys so much. Just had a great time at the Salam School at the alumni game. I don’t know about you guys, but I got buckets, and now I’m an official superfan. Thanks for having me.

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