It was a New England blizzard in the winter of 1891 which birthed the game of basketball in Springfield Massachusetts. Springfield College physical instructor James Naismith was desperate to keep his male students occupied indoors. In an inspired desperate move, he nailed two peach baskets to the walls of the gymnasium and handed the students a soccer ball - creating the game of basketball.

Just shy of a century later, Springfield also became the birthplace of Muslim womens’ basketball player, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. During her unstoppable high school and collegiate basketball career, Bilqis broke records and shattered boundaries, with her head covered in an hijab. She was on her way to an international professional basketball career until she was stopped by a little-known rule by FIBA, the international basketball federation. The rule banned headgear on the court, including hijabs.

A new documentary, Life Without Basketball , chronicling Bilqis’s fight against FIBA’s ban on hijabs premiered late last year and is now making the rounds in the festival circuit.

The next screening of Life Without Basketball will be at the Athena Film Festival in New York City Saturday, March 2nd at 2pm.


Tim O’Donnell –The co-producer and co-director of Life without Basket Ball. Tim is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and the founder of Boston-based production company, Pixela Pictura.

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir – Basketball player, motivational speaker and the subject of Life without Basketball. Bilqis holds the Massachusetts all-time scoring record for women’s high school basketball and was the first Muslim woman to play NCAA collegiate basketball.