Kids Corner


Why No Kid Should Be Banned From Playing Sports





Yesterday (Monday, June 3, 2013), the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) voted to uphold its ban on Sikh children playing soccer while wearing the patka, the under-turban worn by Sikhs on the field as an article of faith.

Those who don't obey the rules can "play in their backyards," said the federation's executive-director, Brigitte Frot, who adds that the organization takes safety too seriously to allow turban-wearing boys and will only change its stance if ordered to by FIFA, soccer's international governing body.

However, she admits she has no idea what the safety issues are and knows of no injuries involving turbans.


Kids, youth and adults, who wear turbans (patkas), have been banned from the soccer fields of Quebec since last summer, when it was determined by the QSF that it would not violate the rule, imposed by FIFA which banned all headgear on the soccer field.

It was the same rule that had previously affected Muslim soccer players and referees who wear the hijab.

Last year, Sarah Benkirane, a referee in the Association Régionale de Soccer du Lac St-Louis, was removed from her duties, as a result.

Subsequently, on October 25, 2012, FIFA amended its rules, allowing Muslim soccer players and refs back on the field with headscarves as long as they were safe and legal.

However, the rule did not change to include Sikh soccer players who wear turbans.

So even after the ban was lifted on the hijab, Florin Buturca, of the Association Régionale de Soccer du Lac St-Louis confirmed that they would still enforce the ban on Sikh boys since the FIFA change only applied to girls.

This is according to Mukhbir Singh, who grew up in Montreal and resides there. Singh is Vice-President (Quebec and Atlantic Canada) of the World Sikh Organization and director of the Sikh Community Centre of Montreal. His organizations have been fighting the ban for the past year.

An avid soccer player, Mukhbir too was banned from playing in the Association Régionale de Soccer du Lac St-Louis Winter soccer season (2012-2013). But his tenacity meant he didn't give up. He became a coach.

His team won the championship.

And yes -- this is only in Quebec.

According to Mukhbir, "young Sikhs in soccer leagues across the rest of Canada are allowed to play while wearing turbans."

And in mid-April of this year, The Canadian Soccer Association sent a memo formally asking provincial associations to permit turbans on their fields.

But the QSF continues to exclude players on the basis of faith.

What are the ramifications of such injustice?

Mukhbir states: "After missing an entire season of soccer, I am worried about the large scale effect this could have on a whole generation of Sikhs living in Quebec if they are not allowed to play a sport due to their religious beliefs -- as you well know, sports is a great way for children to socialize, make new friends and it has been a great tool for integration.

"I myself, as a Sikh, have played soccer my whole life and can truly attest to what a positive influence it has had in my life. Many of my best friends now were once teammates where we learned to play together. Once you wear that jersey and see someone else wearing the same jersey, you are automatically linked with friendship - these abstract issues we have created don't matter to the children playing this game.

"I think it's something we can all learn from."

As a mom of three, I believe it is critical for kids and youth to become active and involved in sports.

My youngest, who is 9, plays soccer. My oldest two, who are 11 and 14, play hockey in a house league.

Last season, my husband (who played hockey from the time he could skate all the way up into the junior leagues) coached both teams.

Some of our team parents were unable to take their kids to games and practices regularly. So we drove them.

For a few of those kids playing hockey meant not only being part of a team but being part of the greater community.

It is evident that not only do kids need sports but we as a society need kids to remain involved in sports.

The positive outcome that results from a kid being on a team affects us all and makes the world a better place.

And in sports, crucial life lessons are learned.

You learn how to both gracefully accept defeat and humbly celebrate victory.

You learn to participate and take risks.

You learn about teamwork and cooperation. You learn that if you wanna score - you gotta pass and that you can't always blame the goalie.

And most importantly, you learn to include everyone.

It is a lesson that some of the grown-ups still don't get.


[Courtesy: The Huffington Post. Added input from CBC News. Edited for]

June 4, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Harpreet Kaur (Cornwall, Ontario, Canada), June 04, 2013, 8:58 AM.

I'm afraid the WSO has done a poor job in clarifying to the media that what the Sikh child wears on the soccer field is a patka (an under-turban), and not a full turban. The confusion complicates the public perception dramatically ... and unnecessarily. When will our spokespersons learn to do the most basic of things right?

2: Ujjagar Singh (New York, USA), June 04, 2013, 9:06 AM.

Mary Antoinette said: "Let them eat cake!" See where she ended up. The Quebec Soccer Federation says: "Let them play in the back-yards!" Let's see where they end up!

3: Tim Ladoucer (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), June 04, 2013, 9:15 AM.

No wonder Quebec is now considered the pariah of North America. I'm sorry! I feel compelled to apologize for these buffoons.

4: Yuri Balgir (Hounslow, United Kingdom), June 04, 2013, 9:17 AM.

@Ujjagar Singh ... How true! ... How so cruelly true! Sometimes absolutely no foresight is given by people in public positions. "Let them play in the back-yards!" A totally tasteless and disturbing statement.

5: Manpreet Singh (Hyderabad, India), June 04, 2013, 9:49 AM.

Well, if there are some compulsions from FIFA, then we should approach FIFA instead of pleading with and knocking at the QSF's door. We as a community need to sit down, discuss, plan and then execute the strategy to convince FIFA to impose some civilized behaviour on their Quebec associates.

6: Kanwar Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 04, 2013, 9:53 AM.

Surely Canada's Federal Sports Minister, Bal Singh Gosal, should get involved in this!

7: Daljit Rattan (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), June 04, 2013, 4:48 PM.

As a Canadia,n I am ashamed at the behaviour displayed here. I hope Frot does not represent the entire Quebec fraternity. Unfortunately many incidents in recent years have shown gradual erosion of any understanding, accommodation or acceptance of reality in Quebec. What an irony that everything that is done against minorities in Quebec is in the name of protecting French heritage.

8: Juvrajvinder Sumal (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), June 04, 2013, 6:52 PM.

I made a petition on regarding this situation. And I would like if we had as many signatures as possible. It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:

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