On 11th October 2020, SJ Cycling Ladies held its first ever Muslim women-only sportive and stepped into the history books. The Ali Asghar Water Appeal (AAWA) Sportive 2020 attracted 45 riders of different abilities aiming to challenge themselves. Riding from Hujjat Stanmore to Windsor and back totalling 44 miles campaigning to raise £72k for WF-Aid AAWA 2020.

The event was originally planned to take place on 13th September with both the men and women’s cycling teams, however due to the COVID-19 measures it had to be postponed. Alhamdullilah with the help of the Stanmore Jaffreys Ladies Sports board, Stanmore Jaffreys Ladies Cycling team, our sponsors and community members, we were able reschedule the event to 4th October. Unfortunately, Storm Alex hit the UK that weekend and in the early hours of Saturday 3rd October having assessed the route, we made the difficult decision to postpone the ride. However we remained optimistic and on 11th October, the SJ Ladies successfully undertook the ride from Stanmore to Windsor and in the process we collectively raised an incredible £100k to provide clean drinking water to communities where access to water is a challenge.

Planning our sportive

Weeks and months of preparation went into planning the sportive by both the SJ Ladies and Men Cycling core teams. We set ourselves an ambitious target to raise £72K and as soon as the event was launched, we were not expecting such immense interest from our sisters. We soon found ourselves creating waiting lists and our message had reached far and wide and sisters from Mombasa wanted to run a similar event, leading to the formation of an AAWA 2020 Sisters team there led by Ziana Hasham.

The core team spent hours and hours preparing all aspects of the sportive from hosting location, feeding stations, route planning, information packs, logistics, route assessment, medals, jerseys, banners and facilitating logistics for the day. The countless sacrifices made by both teams cannot be rewarded, except from Allah (SWT).

The ladies core team had the challenge of training all ride leaders according to British Cycling ride lead guidelines. Aliya Merali being a Breeze Champion took it upon herself to train 14 sisters to become ride leaders and ride assists, familiarise them with the route and ensure the safety of riders. In addition, Iffat Tejani and Aliya Merali started planning training rides for sisters and coaching on various aspects of bike handling. Zahra Hussain took sole charge of sorting the logistics, looking after the various teams, marketing and liaising with the SJ Ladies Sports Board(Sabiha,Mariam and Saida)

The biggest challenge for the organisers was how to safely deliver the event due to the COVID-19 challenges including the ever changing rules and regulations. The sisters were split into groups of 6 so they could train outdoors together. A big thank you to the nominated ride leaders who trained tirelessly to get familiar with the route and keep their teams safe.

A massive thank you to Mark Doel, British Cycling Central Region Events officer, who went above and beyond in assisting with the ladies setup including British cycling banners and flags.

Thank you to our sponsors WF-Aid, Hujjat, Bullsmoor Dental, GWG, HIGH5 and Positive IT Support. A special thank you to Hujjat EC, Abid Bhai Hirani and his team, Mawkib, Ladies EC Nasim bai Karim, our support drivers and riders, mechanics, medical staff, photographers and above all those who provided us with drinks and refreshments to keep us fed and hydrated.


Below are some accounts from the women who completed the AAWA 2020 sportive and a reflection of their experiences:

11th of October: the day in history dawned….The first Muslim women only sportive..

AAWA Ladies 2020 – Team 2 Trustworthy  written by Maasuma Jagani (Ride Leader)

AAWA Ladies 2020 – Why I Cycle Shamim Ismail

AAWA Ladies 2020 – Shahina Chandoo our youngest rider


Check out the Sportive memories here:


Thank you for joining us in our journey to inspire communities through our sport to make a difference and we hope inshallah next year, more sisters will join us for this cause. The cheque for £103,823 was presented to WF representatives on 10th December 2020 by Head of SJ Cycling Imran Mamdani and U16 rider Shahina Chandoo. 

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