Basketball camp in Boston offers hoop dreams for Muslim girls

In our Chosen Family series, in partnership with Kalo, In The Know spotlights small but strong communities that are united by a shared passion.

For Jamad Fiin, who grew up in a Somali Muslim community in Boston, playing basketball wasn’t as easy for her to do as, say, her brothers. Not that she didn’t have the skills or the drive. The problem was that she was a girl.

“It was considered a bad look in our community,” Finn tells In The Know, to be on the court with a bunch of boys. “There’s the stigma that Muslim women, they just stay home, they just cook and clean. Like, they’re not their own person, basically.”

But that didn’t stop Fiin, who kept shooting hoops with her brothers and playing the game whenever she could. After all, as the young college student says, “Muslim girls can hoop, too, and play sports, too.”

Realizing that her daughter was thriving in the sport, Finn’s mom ignored the calls from people in their community who criticized her for playing — or for even wearing shorts.

“I let her go,” her mom adds, “and it will save her.”

Then, in high school, when Fiin and her friends played at a local community center, young girls started joining them. But Fiin wasn’t exactly interested in playing with kids.

“I’d rather just help them,” she says.

A sense of community

That’s where her idea for starting a youth organization focused on basketball took flight. Fiin turned her love of the game into something meaningful — not just for her but for other Muslim girls as well. In 2019, Fiin created the Jamad Basketball Camps, a Boston-based organization where she is CEO.

Two summers ago was her first time launching the camp, and she says, 10 to 15 girls showed up. That initial number might have been modest, but she says those 10 girls showed a lot of love for the sport. The following year numbers grew to 50 or 60 girls, and Fiin noticed the bonds that were forming, the passion that was being stoked.

“It just shows how they didn’t have any sense of community for basketball,” she says. “And now they have this whole community where they play all the time.”

The self-described influencer, who counts 1.1 million followers on TikTok and more than 400,000 followers on Instagram, is a role model for young girls who want to play sports but can’t “because of restrictions of religious or cultural reasons.”

“My biggest goal is to open up an all-girls facility where they can be comfortable playing basketball,” Fiin adds. Seeing them play, seeing them improve, and watching their confidence grow has inspired the young CEO.

And so far, she’s achieving her goal of bringing girls to the game and offering opportunities to build confidence and improve their skills.

“I think what she does here is great, especially for the Muslim community. She’s just an inspirational person,” says one young basketball player. “Not a lot of young Muslim girls are able to do what they love without being too scared to do it. Jamad started that journey for them.”

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