International Women's Day 2021: Afsana Afsar

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we have spoken to five incredible members of the Netball Family who all #ChooseToChallenge.

Displaying resilience and determination, all these women either thrive working in a role or field some may perceive to be gender biased, continue to break down barriers or successfully challenge age stereotypes.

In this article, we are delighted to feature Afsana Afsar. Since September 2018, Afsana has worked tirelessly to break down barriers within the community and has been the key driver behind creating a netball provision that’s empowering, welcoming and safe for ethnically diverse communities in Derby.

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We spoke to Afsana about the role she’s played in helping other women get involved in netball, the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day and more.

On life in lockdown

“I’d say it’s had its positives and that it’s given me time to kind of slow down and reflect. I’ve always had an interest in herbs and natural remedies and I’ve finally had the chance to pursue a course to study this further. So, I guess it’s given me time to think a little bit more about other things that I want to do and I guess, given me time to do them.”

On the challenges of lockdown

“Like most parents, I would definitely say home-schooling has probably been an area I’ve found quite challenging. But the positive I guess, which I like to see in most things, is that the self-discipline the children have had to develop is something they’ll carry forward with them in other areas of life in the future.”

On working on the frontline as a pharmacist

It’s definitely a great sense of satisfaction to know that I’ve helped people stay well and feel better and it’s an honour to be in a position that I’m able to do this. I’ve always enjoyed being able to help people so just to be able to continue to do that in the pandemic is definitely something that I’ve found continually rewarding.”

On getting women involved in netball

“Over the last few years, being able to offer netball to women who otherwise would’ve given up the sport has been something which has been quite amazing because through netball many women have become active. They’ve been able to create stronger connections to friends, as well as the community and had they not been offered netball, this wouldn’t have been an option to them. I think helping others has also helped me in the sense of the satisfaction that it’s given me knowing you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life; the satisfaction that you feel is immense. That is something which I’ve truly appreciated throughout the journey of what I’ve been able to offer others. And as well as offering others something, I definitely have obtained a huge degree of satisfaction back.”

On challenging her own thoughts

“Once I realised how much I miss netball, I recognised that other girls must have felt the same. For me, it was an easy decision to know that I wanted to play netball again and give others the opportunity to do so. And I knew if I didn’t act upon it, giving it up would be a repetitive cycle for many other girls in the future. I think being able to change this would be something I felt would be hugely beneficial and appreciated by women of my age and in my generation and in so many ways for girls and mothers within the community for years to come. And I think that was kind of what made me want to move this forward and I’m so glad I did.”

On staying active in lockdown

“I’d say I’ve stayed active by doing various home workouts, including netball-related ones, cycling and going for walks with the family. I’ve managed to stay connected with the Netball Family through a group chat that we have, as well as occasionally through outdoor fitness-related activities when it’s been allowed.”

On the importance of International Womens Day

“I think it can be quite inspirational for women to recognise the challenges that others have also had and how those challenges were addressed and overcome, contributing to a positive outcome that others will also benefit from in the long-term. There will be occasions where boundaries will have to be pushed and things like that but when you can see the overall benefit, it definitely would’ve been worth pushing those boundaries.”

On being one of the women featured

“Being one of the featured women is not something I expected at all. My journey started simply to offer netball to a wider community. Through the support of Rachel Gregg (Netball Development Officer – Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire) and England Netball, this journey has helped me recognise that the benefit of connecting a community not only empowers those within it, but it also creates a sense of unity which adds to the overall happiness and wellbeing of those within it. So, I definitely want to say a big thank you to Rachel and England Netball for coming on this journey with me and allowing me to experience all the positives, so thank you!”

Find out more about all the individuals whose stories we’ll be sharing over the course of the week here.

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