Basra’s Female Athletes Wrestling with Social Taboos

Waheed Ghanim


The Basra women’s wrestling team has achieved a lot, winning prizes around the country. And it has also managed to overcome a conservative society’s attitude towards “fighting women”.

The southern province’s female wrestling team was founded at the start of 2017 by coach, Ghazwan Abdul Karim. And by the time the sportswomen competed in the southern Iraqi championships in Diwaniyah in 2018, they were good enough to make third place.

In a conservative society such as in Basra, there are other obstacles for women who want to wrestle competitively. It’s generally considered unfeminine for females to engage in a violent contact sport like this and there are also taboos about touching opponents in certain ways and physical contact with a male coach.

But Abdul Karim says the team worked through this. “We asked the parents to come and observe our training,” he explains. “We also allowed the parents to accompany their daughters to the last tournament in Diwaniyah and we even covered some of their travel expenses.”

That is despite the fact that the women’s wrestling team is short on cash. If anybody is injured, the wrestlers have to pay their own medical costs. They also pay for their own equipment and their training space is a storage hall, without any air conditioning or basic sports amenities. Some of the Basra wrestlers don’t even have proper uniforms.

“One of my wrestlers had to wear a large swimsuit to compete and she looked pretty terrible,” Abdul Karim notes. “But she won! And there are now talks about taking some of our team and making them members of the national team,” he boasts.

The women who are involved don’t mind the lack of funding because they’re so enthusiastic about the sport, says Fatima Haider Hussein, a teacher and one of the team members. She sees wrestling as a beautiful game, where intellect and cunning about what moves to make are just as important – perhaps even more important – than size and strength.

Nour al-Houda, another wrestler, says she got started after seeing a post about the sport on social media; her father has since become one of the team’s most dedicated supporters and she is one of the team members that might get to wrestle for Iraq.

“The wrestling we do is not like freestyle wrestling,” she explains. “We depend more on moves and tactics to win.”

Sports are disappearing from our schools, says Mushtaq Hamid, the head of the Basra’s Olympic sports committee. Sports for girls are particularly scarce. “There are those who believe that female sports are immoral but this is a grave mistake,” Hamid argues. “Sport plays a part in the formation of one’s morals and what this women’s wrestling team has achieved is the best proof of that.”

Meanwhile Basra’s young women wrestlers continue to train hard and to try to solicit donations from state authorities, in the hopes that they might get to take part in tournaments in Turkey or Egypt this December.

Related Articles


  1. We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand
    new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with useful information to work
    on. You’ve performed a formidable activity and our whole group will be
    thankful to you.

  2. My brother suggested I may like this web site. He was entirely right.
    This submit actually made my day. You cann’t consider just how a lot time I had spent for this
    info! Thanks!

  3. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward
    to going over your web page repeatedly.

  4. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog
    and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very

  5. Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and in depth
    information you present. It’s nice to come across a
    blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date
    rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.
    quest bars quest bars

  6. You really make it appear so easy with your presentation however I find this
    topic to be really one thing that I believe I would by no
    means understand. It sort of feels too complex and very extensive for me.

    I’m looking forward to your next publish, I will attempt
    to get the hold of it! cheap flights cheap flights

  7. Hi there I am so glad I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Bing for something else, Regardless I
    am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the
    minute but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time
    I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep
    up the excellent work.

  8. Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for putting up. “The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself.” by Rita Mae Brown.

  10. Pretty good post. I have just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed reading your blog posts very much. I am looking for new posts to get more precious info. Big thanks for the useful info. 안전놀이터

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button