Afro hair hats are allowed in swimming competitions

The question, which had been mostly ignored until then except for those directly involved, surfaced at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Do people with afro hair need a different swimming cap? The answer from Michael Chapman and Tokes Ahmed Salahuddin, founders of Soul Cap, and many blacks is “yes.” “We need the space and volume that headphones like Soul Caps allow,” explained Danielle Obi, founder of the Black Swimming Federation, however FINA was not of the same opinion. At the last Olympics, black swimmers were banned from wearing hats tailored to their hair because they did not fit the “natural shape of the head.” This ridiculous impulse sparked discussions, the social word of mouth began and now the shift has finally arrived: From now on, FINA will allow black athletes to wear headphones suitable for Afro-haired at competitions, including Olympic.

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“All we ask is,” Obi Al explained The New York Times , “It is the possibility of having adequate equipment to satisfy our hair problem, which is an important barrier to youth participation in competitive aquatic activities.” According to Sport England stats, A quarter of black children drop out of primary school unable to swim, 95% of black adults and 80% of black children cannot swim: a real gap in access to the sport increases the risk of drowning. According to the founders of Soul Cap, the lack of proper sportswear is precisely one of the reasons blacks have historically been prevented from swimming. Store caps are too tight and don’t provide enough room for African hair, and often cause damage or discomfort and lead to a feeling of misfit in children.

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Now, the FINA decision recognizes the problem as tangible and worthy of respect and it is A first step to rethinking access to swimming and how racial stereotypes still influence the rules of sports competitions. “This achievement plays a huge role in our broader mission to promote inclusion in sport,” commented Michael Chapman and Tokes Ahmed Salahuddin. They added that “there is still tremendous progress to be made for diversity in the water, but” some of the hurdles to overcome include the cost of a sport such as swimming, the lack of swimming education in schools, the closure of swimming pools, and cultural stereotypes. Like the idea that “blacks don’t swim.”

Queenie Bell

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