Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – January 2016

Rimla AkhtarRimla Akhtar is the first Muslim woman – and one of only six women in total – to sit on the 121-strong FA Council. She is chair of the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation and worked with Olympic organisers to advise them on female representation at London 2012.

Rimla is a Liverpool fan and both coaches and plays football. She captained the British Muslim Women’s football team in 2005 and played cricket for her county as a teenager. Rimla has been involved in a number of campaigns to make football more inclusive, including a successful campaign to get FIFA to accept that women should be allowed to play football wearing hijabs.

As chair of the UK’s Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF), her mission is both simple, and daunting: to promote diversity in British sports, an arena overwhelmingly dominated by white men.

She is also the co-founder of The Listening Service, which provides mental health awareness and support for women, with a particular focus on those from ethnic minorities.

Rimla’s achievements were marked when she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to equality and diversity in sport.