Rimla Akhtar, UK
Football Association Council
The FA Council has historically been stuffed with ‘blazers’, almost exclusively of one colour, and of an older generation. That Rimla Akhtar became the first Muslim woman to take up a seat on a board that drives policy for England’s national pastime is a measure of the influence she wields and respect she commands within British sport. Akhtar fully embraced her Muslim identity in public after growing weary of hiding her true self during an era of anti-Islam sentiment in the mid-2000s. She became chair of the Muslim Women Sports Foundation in 2005 and through their promotion of inclusivity and tolerance, particularly surrounding FIFA’s then-ban of the hijab, the FA soon discovered that Akhtar provided an invaluable voice for under-represented communities. She continues to advise and lead sports groups and bodies, both home and abroad, on issues of diversity within sport.
– Akhtar is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and grew up in London during the 1980s, when racism was rife.
– Founder of global sports development consultancy firm, Rhimjim Consulting, having started her career with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
– Among her many roles, is a trustee of football anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out.
Did you know…
Akhtar is a gifted sportsperson and has represented the British Muslim Women’s futsal team as captain in a number of tournaments.
“For me, sport was just an area where I felt like I was accepted – nobody cared about the colour of my skin, that I wore a piece of cloth around my head, the fact I was a girl. All they cared about was how well I could play.” – Rimla Akhtar
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