A NETBALL coach is making sure Muslim women don’t have to forsake their religious values for fitness with new classes set in a private sports hall.

Musarath Soofi brought her passion back to Bradford after more than 10 years playing for leisure in Dubai.

And now, after training up as a level two netball coach with UKCC this spring, she has inspired hundreds of women to play on the court.

It has proved so popular that Musarath has increased her sessions from once-a-week to three times a week, hosted in the heart of BD3 at the Karmand Community Centre.

Musarath told the Telegraph & Argus: “Netball became part of my life as, not only did it help me to keep fit but also helped me to network and socialise, it helped my physical and mental wellbeing.

“I wanted to bring netball to the Asian community in Bradford as it wasn’t something that was well known.

“Netball was always that game that was played at school and that’s it. I wanted to bring that excitement back into my hometown, to give the women the chance to feel that ‘buzz’ that I felt everytime I played, and to forget about the stress around."

She added: “The sessions are held in a private sports hall where no men can see into, hence a chance for all women to come and play without forsaking their Islamic values.”

Women can take off their nikaab or hijaab with the peace of knowing their Islamic faith is not jeopardised.

This positive change is something that Musarath believes makes sport more accessible to her community.

Explaining the meaning behind wearing a nikaab, she said: “We see it as a part of our religion, it’s part of showing our modesty and not showing our body to people that we don’t want to show our body to.”

But this is just one side of the story.

The new classes have been taken up by women of all ethnicities which Musarath feels is bringing people together.

Many say the socialising is their favourite part about the sessions which is a sentiment felt by Samina, one of the club’s members.

She explained: “Netball is a great fun game yet highly competitive. If it wasn’t for the friendly and welcoming team members and coach especially I probably would not have come back to play.

“Not only does it bring back happy memories from school days but it enables you to make lots of new friends from all walks of life.

“The game itself is a very good cardiac workout and allows you to enhance skills such as teamwork, communication and trust.

“All ages and all abilities are welcomed.

“More thought and planning and investment needs to go into providing more of such sports especially to the minority communities who may not feel comfortable in mixed environments.”

Netball sessions take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays and cost £4 per session. The group is open to all abilities.

Musarath said: “It’s for anyone and everyone. It’s bringing the community together.

“There’s so many different backgrounds.

“When we come on court it’s nice because everyone’s getting along.”