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Hustles + Hobbies: Standup Paddleboarding With @Fatimasups

by in Culture & Lifestyle on 4th August, 2022

We’ve spoken to Esra Alhamal about the art of Islamic illumination, Azeezat Adeola about mindfulness in knitting and how to get started and knitting for social issues, Neda about pole fitness, body confidence and online trolls, Chaimaa Creates about baking and cake design, Katie Haseeb about illustrating and fine arts, Brooke Benoit about jewellery design, Firdaws Clotaire about ceramics and pottery-making, and Zainab Alema about her journey to becoming a professional rugby player and encouraging more Muslim women to get involved in sports.

Last month we spoke to Shakira who is a Womb Healer and Doula

So without further a do let’s find our if Paddleboarding is easy to do!

If you would us to  interview a Muslim woman about her hobby/hustle, get in touch:

What do you do and how long have you been doing it for?

My hobby is stand up paddleboarding (SUP for short) and I’ve picked up this watersport only 3 months ago. As someone who is quite sporty, I have always wanted to try out watersports; but my fear of water and inability to swim have always held me back. On beach trips and family holidays, I was always the person watching on when family and friends venture out to the water to swim or do a water activity.

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A post shared by fatimasups (@fatimasups)

How did you get into this hobby?

Taking up one to one swimming lessons played a huge role in me getting into this hobby, especially with a qualified swimming instructor that understood my water phobia! 

Once I overcame my fear of water and gained swimming confidence, I decided to apply for a paddlesports introduction & safety course that an organisation I am part of (Scouting) organised for adult volunteers. It was a skills weekend course that introduced kayaking, canoeing and SUP, and taught safety and rescue techniques. It was during this course that I tried standup paddleboarding for the first time and fell in love with it.

What is your favourite thing about your hobby and why?

Exploring nature from a different perspective; being on the water allows you to experience and see things in scenic and serene spots that you wouldn’t otherwise see if you were walking or driving. I’ll never forget the shock and amazement of seeing an underwater forest when I paddled in Lulworth Cove. A whole life beneath the surface of the water which you would not know existed if you were just sitting by the shore.

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A post shared by fatimasups (@fatimasups)

What is the most challenging thing about your hobby and why?

It is physically challenging, particularly carrying my 11ft paddle board onto the water once it is inflated! 

A paddling session is also essentially a full body workout, especially when water conditions aren’t so great, like a windy day or if you are against the tide. However this is also one of the things that motivates me to do it regularly. Not only is SUP so fun and enjoyable, it is an excellent activity for cardiovascular health and core strengthening. 

It can be very difficult for Muslim women to break into SUP and water sports in general – what motivates you to keep going?

I have always watched people do SUP and other watersports from afar, and convinced myself it is something I’d never be able to pick up as a hobby. Not just because of my water phobia, but because I’ve never seen Muslim women out on the water. The previous lack of modest swimwear that would give me the comfort to break into a water sport, the stigmatisation of burkinis in Europe in recent years, are a few things in a list of many things that create mental and social barriers for women that are interested in taking up a water sport.

Now that I have done it, there’s nothing more I want to do than encourage other Muslim women to do the same. What motivates me is the journey that I have been on, from convincing myself that water sports is not catered to Muslim women, to actually being a person that actively participates in a water based activity. The sense of joy, adrenaline and adventure of being on the water is absolutely for everyone.

What are you most proud of on your journey, and why?

I am proud that I am documenting my adventures on an online platform. I am not someone that likes to put themselves in the limelight but I knew the benefits of doing this meant that I can connect with a wonderful community of standup paddlers as well as inspire other Muslim women to go out on the water and have an amazing time; two things which have indeed happened since I started my page!

Who are your biggest inspirations/who are the people making waves (no pun intended) in this field? 

A lovely sister called Anna @kayakinghijabi who I got to know after I set up my instagram page. She is a Paddlesports Instructor, a mother, a #ShePaddles ambassador for British Canoeing, and actively runs paddling sessions for Muslim women in the Bolton area. Anna is a huge inspiration and the most supportive and encouraging person I’ve interacted with since I’ve joined the lovely paddling community.

How do you want to grow/develop this hobby?

I want to learn more advanced techniques on the SUP, for example specific manoeuvres that help you to turn around quicker. I want to improve my tide monitoring  and general tide knowledge as it is absolutely vital for safe and enjoyable SUP sessions. 

My ultimate aim is to introduce Muslim girls and women into the joy of being on the water. At the moment, I am only qualified to assist instructors on paddling sessions so one of my goals is to obtain the Paddlesports Instructor Award and then later on the Paddlesports Coach Award, which will allow me to take out a group of people out on the water and run SUP sessions on my own.

Are there other water sports you enjoy? If so, what are they?

I love swimming and I am continuously striving to become a better swimmer. I am also fascinated by surfing and kitesurfing, two watersports which I’d love to try! 

 What would be your advice for someone that wants to get into this hobby?

If you have a fear of water, definitely overcome that first. And have belief that there are people out there that will understand your fear and coach you through it, like my amazing swimming instructor. Overcoming water fear will give you the confidence you need to go out on the water safely. Secondly, book an introductory session or a course because it will provide you with vital necessary skills and knowledge to be safe on the water. And finally, once you do that, go out on the water – but never alone! Always go with someone or with a group.

Selina Bakkar

Selina Bakkar

I'm a simply striving to be better and improve in different areas of my life through more self awareness, experiences and learning more about the deen. You'll find me talking about community, connection, planting & growing, seeking the truth in an age of propaganda and misinformation. This year I want to document more to do with food heritage and history so watch this space or reach out. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast where I talk passionately about Islam, nature, motherhooding and back home. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at IG: SelinaBakkar