GLASGOW Afghan United (GAU) served up a celebrity guest this month when ace tennis coach Judy Murray dropped in on our training session.
The Strictly Come Dancing star showed her on-court moves at a special session organised by our Bg Lottery-funded Women’s Empowerment Project.
At GAU we use sport to build self-confidence and skills and overcome isolation amongst women from Afghan and other marginalised backgrounds in Glasgow.
This means breaking down barriers to participation by providing free activities in a safe and sensitive environment.
We were thrilled when Judy agreed to visit one of our sessions at the Firhill Complex in Maryhill with her Judy Murray Foundation. More than 40 women and their children took part in one of our best-attended sports events of this kind with a total number of around 90.
Everyone had a great time – including one giggling youngster who played with Judy and made a real mark on the mother-of-two. Judy tweeted about the incident, saying: “I couldn’t speak her language. She couldn’t speak mine. But we found the international language of play worked just fine for us.”
Khalida Bostani, a mother-of-seven who helps lead the Women’s Empowerment Project, commented: “Watching Judy play with the children and interact with the women proves exactly why we do this – sport is powerful. It can help break down barriers and change lives.
“Many of the women we work with face many barriers in life, from language and learning to employment and earnings. Most have moved to this country and have to start from scratch. GAU’s Women’s Empowerment Project is about helping them realise their potential – and if there’s anyone who knows about achieving potential, it’s Judy Murray.
“She’s an absolute inspiration and she certainly inspired our members to grab a racket and get involved in sports.”
The session was also attended by Bob Doris MSP and Scottish Refugee Council head Sabir Zazai.
Some GAU members will now receive training to deliver tennis lessons in the community.
And the session ended as most GAU events do – with a communal feast of home-cooked foods, which Judy was invited to join.
Abdul Bostani, GAU director, said: “We were honoured when the Judy Murray Foundation agreed to join us and share her expertise. Her team were terrific and we would like to thank them for everything they’ve done. It was wonderful to see how happy the children were and how much their mothers were enjoying themselves.”