5 Reasons Why Arshia Hashmi Is Changing The Future Of Women In Football
The Law Of… Embracing Diversity In Sport
After being named as the youngest, and first female and Asian board member of Lancashire FA, Arshia Hashmi, Immigration Solicitor, answers 5 questions about what this means for the future of football.
How Does It Feel To Be The Youngest Board Member Of Lancashire FA?
I feel immensely proud and privileged to become the youngest board member, particularly because I am the first female and first Asian board member of Lancashire FA!
It still feels surreal that those who nominated me for this position and have supported my appointment believe in my ability to help LFA move forward and shape its future.
When Did Your Interest In Football Begin?
From a very young age, there have been two strong passions in my life: football and the law.
Some of my happiest memories were playing football near my grandparent's home with my uncles, cousins and neighbours. I'm very lucky to be in a position now where I can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Can You Describe The First Legal Case You Worked On Relating To Football?
Back in 2011, when I was working as a paralegal, a file suddenly landed on my desk one day along with the instructions: "It's something to do with football – sort it out!" I didn't know it then, but this experience was the beginning of something very special for me.
Once I'd started working on the case, it was clear that the league had not properly applied the relevant rules and regulations when considering the inclusion of a youth football club.
To get a better sense of the problems, I arranged a meeting with a majority of the 60 children involved with the club and spoke to children of all ages, from the under 9s to the under 13s. After seeing just how passionate they were about the game and being treated equally on and off the pitch, I made a decision to represent them on a pro bono basis.
I represented the club before the football league, and then once more on appeal to the FA, which was in front of a national panel made up of very senior members of the FA's national appeal panel.
I'm pleased to say the issues were dealt with appropriately on appeal. Following the success of the appeal, the club invited me to attend some training sessions and league matches.
As it was winter at the time, I decided the best way of keeping warm was to help out with the training and pre-match warm-ups!
In a matter of time, I'd gone from being a helper to managing my own team in the club. From there, I progressed on to coaching and obtaining my FA Level One Certificate in Coaching Football.
What Would You Like To Achieve As A Member Of The Board?
Encouraging and promoting diversity within the game is one of my biggest goals. I also want to act as a positive voice for women in football.
The demographics of the users of LFA are very diverse, so it’s important to me to ensure that there is a greater representation of those communities from the top down. It's so important for people to see that there is equality within the sport and that attitudes can be changed, which hopefully, in turn, will increase participation in the game.
I hope that my personal experiences in grassroots football as both a manager and coach of youth teams will help build a connection with members of the LFA. One of my main aims is to improve the sporting experience for all, whether it's participants, spectators or those with an interest in football.
What Do You Think Needs To Be Done To Get More Women Involved In Football?
There is so much more that needs to be done to get more women involved in football, at all levels. This is largely related to tackling discrimination in the game and eradicating negative views and perceptions towards women in football.
It is also about promoting the achievements of women in sport, not just in football, to demonstrate just how much impact they have. In time, this will help change both the media and public's perception of women in football.
Mark Ives, Head of Judicial Services at The Football Association at Wembley Stadium, congratulated Arshia on her achievement:
"Arshia should be extremely proud of what she has achieved but it is of no real surprise that Lancashire FA are keen to utilise her experience."
"She has been working with the FA as a Chair on the National Anti-Discrimination Panel for over 4 years where her experience in equality and diversity is clear for all to see. These natural skills will be a great benefit to Lancashire FA and I also congratulate them in their foresight in this appointment."
"On behalf of the FA, I would like to wish her well in her appointment and we look forward to continue working with her."
Want To Know More About Arshia?
Aside from her role as a board member, Arshia specialises in immigration law and is known for her expertise in challenging Home Office decisions.
Some of the services Arshia offers include: