'I Want to Prove It to Young Asian Girls That You Can Keep Your Religious Beliefs and Still Play Sport' Her Parents Wanted Her to Do a 'Proper' Job, but Sahra Hassan Had Just One Thing on Her Mind - Golf. Cathy Owen Tees off with the Woman Leading the Way for Other Female Muslims in Sport
When she was two, Sahra Hassan and her sisters would go along with their dad Ash to watch him play squash.
They would normally watch from the sidelines, but it wasn't long before his daughter was picking up the racket herself and hitting balls, amazing his friends with her ability at such a young age.
And it was the same with just about any sport Sahra turned her hand to - she was potting snooker balls as soon as she was big enough to reach the table, she loved cricket and by the tender age of four she was playing softball tennis.
"Ever since I can remember I was either hitting squash balls, cricket balls, tennis balls or golf balls," admits the 24-year-old from Newport.
"So I always knew I was going to do sport." But as a teenager it was the call of the fairway and the golfing green that won through in the end.
Sport is not always the first choice of young Muslim women as there are many cultural barriers in their way.
Due to religious misinterpretations or simply a lack of awareness, many Muslim women have been prevented or not felt able to participate in sports.
Sahra is keen to knock those stereotypes on the head and would like to see herself as a positive role model and someone who encourages other young women from her community to participate in sport.
And she has the backing of the pioneering Muslim Women's Sports Foundation (MWSF) which has named her Sportswoman of the Year.
The charity believes that faith and sport for both genders are entirely compatible and that the culture of sport is an essential part of Islamic history.
Since it was established in 2001, it has been at the forefront of encouraging physical activity amongst young Muslim women in the UK.
Sahra's family has always encouraged her sporting flair, but she still faced difficulties and opposition when she decided to make it her career.
In her early childhood tennis was the dominant sport; her mother Annabelle would take her to play all over the UK and she also represented Wales.
But when she joined her dad on the golf course she found a natural ability for that game too and by her late teens she had to choose between the two sports.
Golf was the winner at the end of the day and it seems to have been the right choice as today she is slowly making her way up the world rankings.
"I got into sport at a really early age," she says. "I started playing tennis when I was four years old and won a number of Welsh titles by the age of 13. It was then that I started taking an interest in golf as my dad played - and I never looked back. I was playing county golf by the age of 14, then international golf at 15. I have represented Wales and Great Britain.
"It got to the point where I had to choose between the two sports and I plumped for golf in the end. I played amateur golf for six years at a high level and I was good enough to try pro, so I took a gamble."
And it seems that so far the gamble has paid off, although she admits that in the current economic climate it is tough attracting sponsorship and making a living.
Sahra came second in the European Nation's cup and first in the Welsh championship in 2005 before turning professional in 2009 and playing in the Ladies European tour and Asian tours. …