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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Meet the sport coach empowering Bradford mothers through exercise and activity sessions

A sports coach has spoken out about her incredible journey from living in Germany as an Asylum Seeker to running a successful organisation that empowers mothers from different communities to come together to play sports.

A sports coach has spoken out about her incredible journey from an Asylum Seeker in Germany to becoming the founder and director of a successful sports and wellbeing organisation, uplifting mothers from different communities across the Bradford district.

As a five-year-old child, Nadera Amini, 41, moved from Pakistan with her family as an asylum seeker to Germany, where she spent most of her childhood and adolescence. In the new country, she spent her time focusing on her studies, playing sports with her five older brothers and translating between German and Urdu for her family members.

As a Polyglot, Mrs Amini speaks five languages including English, Urdu, German, Punjabi, and Hindi, and works as a freelance interpreter for the police and the community.

Mrs Amini lived in Germany for most of her childhood and adolescence.

As a young woman living in Germany, Mrs Amini created her village’s first-ever Muslim girls club that took part in competitions with other local organisations. She did this because she felt that Muslim girls were not able to fulfil their full potential.

Following the completion of her A-Levels in Germany, Mrs Amini came to Britain where she met her husband, Nadeem Amini, director at Amini Textiles. The couple soon married, and Mrs Amini moved to Bradford, where she focused most of her time raising her five young children, at the time.

In 2017, Mrs Amini launched the community organisation, NAFS (Nutrition, Advice, Fitness & Self Care), based on the Arabic word ‘Nafs’ which means soul, ego, psyche, mind after realising the struggles mothers often go through and the empowerment activity sessions can provide.

Through hundreds of hours of research, education, and training, Mrs Amini developed an organisation where women from different communities could come together to enjoy different sports and activity sessions, such as football, netball, and dance, rounders, fencing, as well as general social activities.

The sports coach said: “When I was twenty or twenty-one, I was struggling. I wanted to go back into education but also raise my young family, as well. It was difficult to find gyms and creches with women-only areas or spaces for mums and their children.

“I used to go to any community classes, netball, badminton, dance, you name it, I was there. My friend used to say ‘Nadera, you have the passion and the skill to do more in this field,’ and I never believed her.

Mrs Amini runs sports sessions across Bradford through her organisation, NAFS.

“I never realised it was something that I could do. I had to relearn English and English customs, but it was interesting to me. In Germany, everything is black or white. They have a set routine but in England, you can do things on the weekend and in the evenings. I made friends, not only from the Asian community but the English community and people from the migrant and asylum seeker community.”

Mrs Amini undertook dance, aerobics, and Netball training when her youngest child started primary school full time to launch the organisation. The training was self-funded, and the now-qualified sports coach had to overcome some obstacles during this time.

“There are so many things you have to do when you want to just teach a dance class. You have to become qualified, insured, purchase the music systems, hire a hall, and so many other costs that I didn’t think of,” she added.

The organisation was a success, with over three hundred members in the WhatsApp group and over forty women attending the sessions regularly. Just like other sports and community organisations, Mrs Amini had to transition from teaching in-person classes to Zoom when the pandemic hit in early 2020.

NAFS has over three hundred members with over forty women attending the sports and nutrition sessions regularly.

The exercise instructor said: “As you know businesses had to close during the pandemic. As a grassroots organisation made up of mothers who want to make things happen, we had to make some changes.

“Straight away, we took everything online and when outdoor activities in groups of six were permitted again by the Government, I created ‘Dance in a box’ sessions.

“I used to make six spaces available two metres apart with a box on the floor, a designated area for participants to dance in. Since then, we have not looked back.

“Throughout Covid-19, the activities were always there, we didn’t stop. We went back to Zoom during the second lockdown. People enjoyed these sessions, but they were missing coming together as a community and seeing their friends.”

The founder of the organisation’s daughter, Naaima Amini, 21, is now studying medicine to become a doctor, a childhood dream of Mrs Amini. She said: “Since my daughter is studying medicine, I feel like my dream has come true. It makes me happy to see her serving humankind.”

Last Tuesday, Mrs Amini and her team of volunteers joined up with Sharing Voices Bradford and Dr Halima Iqbal, a research fellow at Bradford Institute for Health Research to deliver a presentation on the importance of nutrition to over fifty women.

She said: “Health is a big topic in my life. Health means a lot to me. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is through healthy eating. In partnership with Sharing Voices, we played netball and some music chairs followed by a nutrition workshop on Tuesday.

“We had Dr Halima speaking about the importance of mental wellbeing and I delivered the health and nutrition workshop. It was a highly successful event with over fifty women in attendance. The session took place over four hours, and it ended with healthy and food drinks. The women enjoyed the discussions and it felt like we were back to old times.”

To find out more information on NAFS, visit here.

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