Iranian women's team in hijab makes FIBA 3x3 World Cup history

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Bocaue, Bulacan (CNN Philippines, June 11) — History was written in women's basketball as Iran's national women's team won their first game in an international event while wearing hijab, the Muslim traditional attire.

The 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup was just the second international tournament the team joined since their first outing in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup last April in China which they were also eliminated from.

In both occasions, Iran's national women's team composed of Saiedeh Elli, Masoumeh Esmaeilzadeh Soudjani, Kimiya Yazdian Tehrani and Mozhgan Khodadadi represented their country and culture by wearing hijab.

This comes after FIBA reversed the headgear ban including hijab and yarmulke in 2017. Before this, head coverings were banned in international basketball competitions as these could fall off and cause a tripping hazard to other players.

"FIBA doesn't let in players with hijabs in Islamic countries play at the international level but we brought it up because we were able to get in the world cup level." said Khodadadi.

But it was only on Monday when the team got their first victory as they concluded their 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup campaign with a big win against Andorra, 21-12. This was their lone victory in the tournament after suffering back-to-back losses at the hands of other Pool C members — USA, Russia and Uganda.

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As they got their first win, the team shared the significance of their international outing which highlighted the players wearing hijab.

"It's a historic win because we want to show the government back in Iran that we can make 3x3 grow." shared Nika Beyk-Liklee, the head coach.

"This is a good experience for an Iranian girl that we can play with our hijabs. Our Iranian team is the first team to win out of everyone that has a hijab and this is very good for a lot of people." added Yazdian Tehrani.

Despite their 1-3 record, the team is optimistic this feat can spark a new beginning for women's basketball in Iran.

"It was actually hard and difficult but it's better than nothing. If we are here, we're happy because we can play and we can challenge our team in something like this [World Cup]" said Beyk-Liklee.

"I'm sure that maybe three or four years later, we can get to a higher level like first, second or third place in Asia and hopefully in international games too like the World Cup," she added.