'Like a social passport': Rana Hussain uses sport to foster inclusion

‘Like a passport for your social interactions’: Rana Hussain uses sport to foster inclusion

Despite not being an athlete, sport has had a profound impact on Rana Hussain’s life. 

Growing up, sport was a presence in the background of her life– played on TVs in the home or at bars– but it wasn’t until she got older that it began to emerge as an avenue of connection to other people. 

“In the backdrop of when I grew up– which was post 9/11– there were things that you could talk about with people that kind of became like a passport for your social interactions,” says Hussain.

“[Sports-related topics] were humanising and built connections with other people, where perhaps without those things, you would feel very isolated.”

It was after this realisation that she says she began to pay more attention to the current events of the sporting world, particularly cricket.

“I went to the cricket all the time with my community as a young person, so I just had that understanding and knowledge,” she said. “And when I spoke about sports, it just kind of melted away whatever barriers were between me and the rest of the world.”

Rana Hussain

As the Program Founder of her own consulting organisation Good.Human and a Board Member at the Victoria Women’s Trust, Hussain has graced the sports sector for over ten years, championing inclusion and diversity. She’s a respected media commentator and often speaks to organisations and community groups, sharing her experiences in the sector as a Muslim-Indian woman. 

Most recently, the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation for the Change Our Game movement selected Hussain to join a group of seven other women ambassadors raising awareness on key issues for women in sport. 

Between now and International Women’s Day 2024, she will be using this platform to foster belonging through sport and media, specifically with culturally and linguistically diverse women.

“It’s humbling to be an ambassador,” Hussian says. “Especially because I’m not an athlete.”

“I sort of inhabit this space in sport, where I represent a voice [for] non-athletes, kind of representative of the traditional sports fan or administrator.”

“So to be an ambassador in the capacity that I am representing people who aren’t traditionally in sport is very, very meaningful, and hopefully has an impact.”

Through her continued advocacy, Hussain says she wants to encourage and listen to other Muslim women and women of colour interested in getting involved in sport. 

“What I would love to see– and I think it’s starting to happen now– is conversations and opportunities and programs that wrap around cultures and communities to address their needs rather than kind of asking communities into existing avenues to participate in sport,” she explains.

And while Hussain does see change happening, it’s not always as meaningful as it has the potential to be. 

“That was really why I wanted to be part of this ambassador program,” she says. “To continue to hold that space quite visibly and show it is possible to inhabit.”

“We can be our full selves, with our cultural identities and religious identities and turn up in public spaces– particularly ones that are so important to the national psyche like sport.”

Hussain would love to see more meaningful diversity in positions of power in the sporting world, where there’s “agency and ability to actually impact the system”. 

Sport, she says, “has this incredible ability to bring people together, to remove those exclusionary barriers and create a level playing field”. 

While that doesn’t discount the fact that there’s been historical systemic barriers often counteracting this inclusion, Hussain notes that through her advocacy work, she often frames the conversation in a way that most sports-minded people can relate to: what’s fair or not fair. 

“I think there’s a natural feeling of fairness,” she says. “Sport is all about fairness.”

“If you’re best on the ground, it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from.”

Between now and International Women’s Day 2024, Change Our Game Ambassadors will use their platform to help drive change and raise awareness on key issues and barriers for women in sport. The Change Our Game series is put on by the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation. Be sure to follow the Ambassadors’ journeys through @ChangeOurGame on socials.


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