Morocco's footballer Nouhalia Benzina. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Twenty-five year old Moroccan Defender Nouhalia Benzina made history by becoming the first player to wear a hijab at the World Cup. Nouhalia played in the match that secured her team a 1-0 win over South Korea. 

 Assmaah Helal, the Muslim Women in Sports Network Co-founder, praised Benzina:

“Girls will look at Benzina [and think] ‘that could be me. Also, the policymakers, the decision-makers, and administrators will say, ‘We need to do more in our country to create these accepting and open and inclusive spaces for women and girls to participate in the game.”

Benzina’s admirable step shows her freedom to express her beliefs since twenty years ago hijabs were placed beyond a line in the sand. In 2014, Fifa authorized the wearing of head coverings for religious reasons. Previously it had banned the hijab on safety and health grounds, fearing possible choking. They later changed this before the Under-17 Women’s World Cup that was held in Jordan.

Nouhalia plays professionally as a defender for the Association’s Sports of Forces Armed Royal and Morocco Women’s National Team. She was included in the Moroccan national team squad for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.