Our spotlight woman of the week is Nur Ali, a community development and health trainer at ShipShape in Sheffield. 

ShipShape helps deliver free or low cost physical activities to local diverse communities across Sharrow, Broomhall, Nether Edge and the city centre. 

Women playing football courtesy of ShipShape’s

During lockdown, Nur led the ShipShape This Girl Can campaign which focused on encouraging young girls to get involved in sports. 

It’s now been a year since the This Girl Can funding stopped but that hasn’t stopped Nur, who’s dedication to getting people involved in sports stops for no one. 

Nur Ali said: “I feel I’m someone people can relate to because I’m hijabi. I have three girls who also get involved and I’m known in the community.

“The main barrier (to these girls getting involved) is that if the mum and dad don’t have trust in the organisation they won’t let their children partake, especially the girls.”

Another barrier Nur mentioned was the fear of doing sports in your religious clothing: “What are people going to say if you’re wearing a hijab and playing football in the park?

“With our activities you can come in your own clothes, clothes you’re comfortable in. We had our first football open day session, 28 women and girls showed up, wearing maxis, hijabs, and they tied their clothes on the side and carried on playing football.”

A ShipShape football open day

Nur also articulated how it’s not just women and girls that ShipShape helps: “In Asian communities there is a lot of involvement from the dads as well as the mums so we set up cycling and football groups to help them also trust the organisation. It’s about doing it as a family.”

The activities ShipShape offer include a multi-sports hub during the school holidays, womens cycling, to help increase their confidence riding a bike, and culture dancing sessions in Broomhall every week. 

Through ShipShape, Nur is tackling local health inequalities and acting as an inspiration to not just young people but multiple generations of people in her community.