Gold Girls Can Interview: Mahnoor From Netball


Mahnoor is Captain of the Netball Team, and the second of our This Girl Can Interviews with Eva, SU President - inspiring more Goldsmiths women to get involved in sport.

Were you into sport as a child?

I just always had this energy and there was no real outlet for me. I remember one day in school in year four my teacher who was in charge of the netball team came up to me and was like 'I want you to come down to netball training and do something for me'. I’d never played before and I had no idea what netball was, but I fell in love with the sport and continued doing so many sports after that - it helped me find this new love for sport.

How do you think your involvement in sport has changed since you've grown up?

I feel like I'm more aware of other sports and the people in sports than I was growing up. At first it just used to be playing it for fun and now there are people you look up to - role models. There are people who compete competitively and still hold down full-time jobs.

I look at the British Netball Team and they are amazing: they are so strong, they work, they have children and they still do this amazing thing of playing sport, and they do it at an exceptional level. 

What obstacles do you feel prevent women from getting involved in sport?

Personally, I feel like culture has a big impact, I come from a Muslim background and women aren't often encouraged to play sport. I used to play volleyball and football when I was younger and they would be considered men's sports. There were times when I would have to overcome obstacles of people not letting me play saying things like ‘oh no you can't play that, you'll get injured - you're a girl’.

Being a girl is not an obstacle. Women can do anything men can do. We are just as knowledgeable and capable.

How did you approach these obstacles?

I just go head first. I don't take no for an answer, when someone tells me I can't do something I’ll challenge them and say why not? I’ll show you that I can and will work even harder just to show them that these obstacles don't phase me and that I can overcome whatever I need to to get the job done. 

Is your sport competitive and if so do you think competitive women are treated differently to competitive men?

Yes my sport is competitive even though some people don't agree because its not in the Olympics. We are treated differently to men, for one the pay gap is huge. We work just as hard, we train just as hard, we have the same training and fitness, but we don't get the same treatment.  

It boils my blood when people ask me what is netball, is it basketball? Is it girly basketball? No. There is women's basketball, and then netball is its own sport. Netball is so much more than what people assume it is, just because it's a non-contact sport doesn't mean you don't get injured and you have to put all your energy into it. I’ve played netball with boys before and they just can't seem to understand the rules. Netball is actually a really tough sport - come play and you'll see.

What’s it like being on a team?

I love it! For me, my team is my family. We are very close and I feel like I know everyone in our team really well. Being on a team you get to meet so many different people. At uni, not everyone's the same age or from the same background, but these team sports bring us all closer together. Team sports are the best sports for personal growth I feel.

What are some highlight memories of your time doing uni sport?

Everytime we win! It's so fun. Not even just that, even traveling to games together as a team is fun. During training we always chat and its one of the best ways to meet people at university. I’ve played professionally before but it was really serious whereas here you're building relationships, which makes winning even better. When people from uni come to support you it hits you in the heart! 

Tell me something I might not have known about your sport or team?

Netball isn't recognised as an official sport in the Olympics, but we still have a world cup and other competitions!

Who are some women in sport you admire? 

Venus and Serena Williams! They are the strongest women! Serena played whilst she was pregnant, let's see a man try do something similar. We have women who are mums and work so hard and train and they still look after their families. Serena Williams plays so well, and she's played against men, and although she hasn't won she is still on that level. Even when she was pregnant she was still killin’ it.

Does sport effect your confidence?

For sure, it makes me more confident. When you have a bad day, and everyone has bad days, but you have that great training session, you just feel better about yourself as a person. I can't even describe the feeling you get. 

Do you see yourself continuing being involved in sport in the future?

I hope so. I can't imagine what I would do without sport. I love what I do and I love studying, but I feel like if I didn't have sport I would loose my mind slowly.

Do you have any advice for women just getting into or considering sport?

Don't be afraid to try something, regardless of what people tell you. Even if you don't think you can do it - give it a go because you never know you may be amazing at it and make the best memories of your life. Don't be afraid!