Archery can take place in all sorts of settings from playing fields to sports centres but in Derby, a new project has been delivering soft archery sessions in a mosque, connecting the sport with members of the Islamic community through an activity which brings together the core values of both the sport and the mosque's congregation.
Archery coach Ifty Khan, from Sunnah Sports, one of Archery GB’s Project Rimaya partners tells us how he developed the project at Derby Jamia Mosque and how people engaged with archery.
The project started when the mosque committee first approached Sunnah Sports, a sports coaching initiative, to introduce a new and exciting activity for their members.
Ifty says: "To ensure that the programme met the needs and interests of the mosque members, I worked closely with the mosque committee to create a structured programme that not only offered physical activity but also promoted essential values such as discipline, focus and respect.
"These values are fundamental in the sport of archery and align well with the core values of the mosque.
"The archery sessions at the mosque provide a unique opportunity for members to engage in physical activity while learning a new skill in a welcoming and inclusive environment. It is an excellent way to promote the benefits of physical activity and to encourage members to adopt a healthier lifestyle."
The success of the project has led to growing interest in the archery sessions and expressions of interest from other mosques in the area.
Islam encourages its followers to engage in physical activities and sports as a means of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Archery provides a unique opportunity to do so while also connecting with Islamic traditions and values.
According to Islamic teachings, archery has many spiritual and moral benefits; the discipline required for archery helps to develop self-control, patience and focus - all of which are important qualities for Muslims to cultivate.
The act of shooting an arrow requires the archer to be fully present in the moment and to maintain a state of mindfulness, which many believe can lead to a deeper connection with oneself and with God.
The project at Derby Jamia Mosque saw 100 young people aged 7 to 16 taking part with an even mix of boys and girls.
Feedback from those taking part was overwhelmingly positive with many commenting on the impact the sessions had on reducing stress and anxiety.
Fatima, aged 9, said: "I loved learning how to use the bow and arrow and seeing my arrows hit the target. It made me feel really proud of myself!"
Yusuf, aged 12, said: "Archery is so cool! It's not like any other sport I've tried before. I like how it requires focus and patience."
Amina, aged 14, said: "I think archery is great because it helps me to stay calm and concentrate. I also like being able to compete with my friends and see who can get the highest score."
The mosque will continue to offer archery while expanding the programme to reach even more members of the community. Sunnah Sports - with support from Archery GB - will be exploring new ways to support participants to continue their journey in archery such as accessing competitions, coaching and training sessions for more advanced archers.
Munawar Hussain Chaudhary, the mosque’s education co-ordinator, said: "We are so pleased to have Sunnah Sports offering archery sessions at our mosque. It's been a great way to engage our community, especially the youth, in a fun and active sport.
"We appreciate the effort and dedication that the coaches have put into creating a safe and supportive environment for our members to learn and grow in their skills and character."
For support with setting up your own Project Rimaya initiative contact Gayle Pink, Archery GB's Head of Participation.
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