Asma Elbadawi Is Here To Change The Game

From petitioning basketball's hijab ban to poetry on planes

Asma Elbadawi Is Here To Change The Game

Asma Elbadawi is quite literally a game-changer. A Sudanese-British spoken word poet, basketball player and coach. She successfully petitioned the International Basketball Association (IBA) to remove the ban on hijabs and religious headwear in the sport. Elbadawi has battled stereotypes her whole life and continues to do so, in part, as the face of global brands such as Adidas. YUNG caught up with her for some quick-fire questions.

What aspects of your heritage influence your poetry?

I spent a lot of summer holidays in the village where most of my family is based and where I was born in the state of Aljazeera Sudan. Being around my cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents in a place so remote meant we often gathered at each others houses. We took walks in the fields, we laughed and talked for hours, in many ways experiencing a simple side to life that gave me a lot of joy and sense of belonging. It’s those feelings that influence my poetry.

If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Probably on an airplane. But only if they let me use the pilot’s microphone pilots.

Where do you go for inspiration? 

I get inspired in the least likely places. Sometimes through conversations with friends and family, other times while I’m traveling. I try not to seek inspiration. I let it come to me. 

Asma Elbadawi

What mythological creature best embodies you?

A Phoenix. I can really relate to the idea of rising from your own ashes over and over again. Life comes with challenges and Alhamdulillah I have been able to get up after experiences that I thought would break me.

What are your favourite – and least favourite – things about being an athlete? 

My favourite is probably shooting three-pointers. No matter how many you score, the joy of it going in the basket never fades. Least favourite is doing the laundry after training and games. 

Tell us your favourite verse?

‘And my mercy encompasses all things’

OK, to finish, top five dinner guests…and why?

Mama, baba, my brother Mohammed, my cousins Amna and Abeer. They are all family and family is really important to me, They have all supported me in ways I can’t express through words. There is something special about having those who supported you at the start of your journey embrace you with all your flaws and imperfections.

Photography: Sali Mudawi and Arhanti at Redefining Concepts