BOCAUE, Bulacan - The Iranian women's team made history on Monday by winning their first 3x3 game while wearing hijabs in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
After losing their first three games in the tournament they finally earned a win by defeating Andorra, 21-12.
The hijab is a veil worn by many Muslim women as a symbol of modesty and privacy. It is a headwear that conveys culture and religion.
Women playing with the traditional hijab used to be forbidden in FIBA competition in the fear of the headwear possibly getting in the way of players. Fans and players alike from all over the world petitioned that the rule be revised. By May 2017, FIBA eventually allowed the players to wear a hijab. The new ruling came in full effect by October of last year.
In the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup, Iran made a significant moment in women's basketball by wearing their hijabs for the first time in 3x3 competition. Iran however lost their two games in the tournament held in Shenzhen, China.
The Iran team, composed of Masoumeh Esmaeilzadeh Soudjani, Mozhgan Khodadadi, Kimiya Yazdian Tehrani, and Saiedeh Elli, finally gave their country a 3x3 win on Monday.
"We are so excited because this is our first time in the World Cup," the 32-year-old Elli expressed. We are so happy and that is our first win in 3x3 wearing a hijab ever."
"FIBA used to not allow players with hijab from Islamic countries to play. But last year, they allowed us to play an official game," pointed out Yazdian Tehrani. "We have a professional league in the world but it is five-on-five."
The trio of Elli, Esmaeilzadeh Soudjani, and Yazdian Tehrani, were all part of the 3x3 team that competed in the Asia Cup. Prior to the Shenzhen tournament, they shared that they didn't have any 3x3 experience before.
Iran's victory on Monday was a momentous event not just to the players personally, but the state of women's 3x3 in their country.
"We need this win to show the government back in Iran that we can continue this game," shared head coach Nika Nikbikli.
Iran earned an historic win on Monday while wearing the hijab. But more than the breakthrough of the religious headwear, it will be a means to preserve 3x3 basketball in their country.
Despite their 1-3 finish in the World Cup, the Iranian team has soaked the experience of competing and winning at the international level.
"It's a great experience to play in this level of basketball. I'm hoping that every year we can play in this kind of basketball," Yazdian Tehrani exclaimed. "This is a good experience and very good for Iran."