October 21, 2020
Breaking Barriers and Ankles with Jamad Fiin

Growing up in Boston, Emmanuel women’s basketball player Jamad Fiin ’21 loved playing pickup basketball at places like Madison Park and the Tobin Community Center.

She stood out on the court not only for her game, but also because she wore a traditional Muslim hijab while she played. It was a different look, but Fiin quickly earned the respect of local ballers as well as members of her community.

Her hijab and Muslim heritage became a part of her basketball identity and soon enough, she started drawing crowds as more and more girls wanted to join her on the court. Many had never played basketball before but still felt a deeper connection to Fiin’s love for the game.

“It started as just pickup basketball at the community centers,” said Fiin. “Lots of Muslim girls came out that never had a chance to play growing up because their families were very conservative. We had some great games at the beginning but then a lot of the girls left for college or took jobs to help support their families.”

As the older crowd slowly diminished, Fiin noticed that the younger girls continued to eagerly gather weekly to watch the Friday pickup games. That’s when she decided it was time to get them involved.

“The majority of the girls had never played before so rather than throw them into games, it made more sense to teach them how to play,” said Fiin.

Fiin started hosting weekly clinics at community centers and courts around Greater Boston. She welcomed girls between the ages of 11-18 and every Friday, got down to the basics: how to take a layup, dribbling drills, passing technique and defensive etiquette were some of the fundamental skills featured at these clinics.

That was three years ago. Since then, Fiin has taken her show on the road crossing state borders and even hitting the international stage.

During the summer of 2018, Fiin traveled to Minnesota and hosted several clinics in the Minneapolis community. With one of the largest Somalian populations in the United States, she hoped to empower more young Muslim girls with an opportunity to learn the sport of basketball.

Fiin used her social media presence on Instagram to help get the word out. With over 328K followers, her camps drew the attention of members of the Somali Women’s Basketball national team whom Fiin quickly recruited to help volunteer at the camps.

“It was amazing to see the response of the Somali and Muslim communities because playing basketball was such an important part of my development,” said Fiin. “I just want to share the game with girls that might otherwise have a hard time finding a chance to play.”

As Fiin continued to make waves in local communities, one celebrity took notice and reached out to see if they could help spread the love internationally.

“We had a great camp last summer in Minnesota and after posting some videos I got a direct message on Instagram from Drake saying he wanted to help.”

Drake, a famous Canadian rapper who has sold more than 170 million records and became a global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors NBA franchise back in 2013, was on board right away. He connected with Fiin online and invited her to Toronto to run a clinic at the Scotiabank Arena, home of the 2019 NBA World Champions.

“It was pretty incredible,” said Fiin. “We were able to connect with so many girls in the Toronto area and they got the chance to play ball, some for the first time, on a court where the NBA champs played. That’s the type of moment that can inspire someone, a moment they’ll never forget.”

Maybe the best thing about her clinics is that they are completely free to attend. All you have to do is register online and your spot is reserved, no charge.

“I wanted to make sure there aren’t any barriers stopping young girls from playing,” said Fiin. “Basketball should bring people together so that’s what we’re trying to do one camp at a time.”

As a member of the Emmanuel College women’s basketball team, Fiin has helped the Saints capture back-to-back Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championships since transferring to Emmanuel in 2018. Her signature move on the court is an ankle-breaking crossover.

Whether she’s breaking ankles in Boston or barriers in the community, Fiin’s love for the game has given thousands of young girls the opportunity to follow in her footsteps.

Action photo of Jamad Fiin on the basketball court Jamad Fiin '21

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