Amal’s Journey

Amal, a dedicated 23-year-old with a Somali background, stands at the forefront of a much-needed social movement in sports and community engagement. Born and raised in Melbourne’s west, her journey from a young girl with a passion for sports to a dynamic leader spearheading her non-profit, Jump Ball, and being the Multicultural Youth Programs Coordinator at the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation is a testament to her drive, vision, and a commitment to accessibility in sport.

Reflecting on her childhood, Amal recalls the vibrant mix of cultures that surrounded her. Growing up in Werribee, she found solace in the diversity of these suburbs, however, navigating the world of community sports as a young Muslim girl was challenging. Amal’s early experiences highlighted the lack of representation and cultural sensitivity within traditional sporting clubs and on many accounts, faced the dilemma of pursuing her love of sports but having to overcome many barriers to do so.

“I think the first barrier was my parents not knowing what resources or what opportunities were out there within the community for kids to get involved. I never knew sport was an option for me, because no one around me was engaged in those opportunities or extracurricular activities outside of school. There was also a lack of awareness within clubs on Muslim girls needing to cover up by wearing a scarf or long sleeves. And I was young and not equipped to challenge those stereotypes.”

Undeterred by the multiple barriers she encountered, like costly membership fees and cultural insensitivities, Amal’s determination to create change built over time. After graduating high school, she set herself on a mission to carve out safe spaces where multicultural youth, like herself, could access and play sports with ease and a sense of community. This is how Jump Ball was created.

“I always knew that once I was old enough, and once I had the capacity or the opportunity to start my own organisation, or sporting club, or support other clubs to engage more girls from multicultural backgrounds, I always knew I was going to do that.”

Rooted in the belief that every person deserves the opportunity to participate in sports, Jump Ball is emerging as an inclusive basketball community where everyone feels welcomed and valued. This organisation not only provides a platform for young women from diverse backgrounds to engage in basketball, but also fosters a sense of community and belonging for the women and their families.

“People from multicultural backgrounds feel culturally safe coming to our programs – they trust Jump Ball, trust the facilitators and the people behind the brand.  Knowing that someone looks like you, or someone that’s also a minority is looking out for you can help to create that second home, or that second environment for young people to engage in community sport”

Through Amal’s involvement in initiatives like a Youth Advisory Group that helps co-design a Youth Leadership program alongside CMSport, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne United, she continues to advocate for inclusion in sports, ensuring that the voices of marginalised communities are heard and valued. As she looks to the future, Amal envisions a world where every young person has the opportunity to pursue their passions without fear or limitation.

When asked what advice she would give to her 12-year-old self she said, “Just do it. Don’t hold yourself back. If you have any questions, ask those questions. Don’t think what if… just always challenge the stereotypes and the things that people put you into a box. I would say just go for it.”

Follow @jumpball.au on Instagram or email amal.hassanali@jumpball.org.au for updates and learn how to get involved.

Photos supplied by Amal, Jump Ball.