Sports in Pre-Revolution Iran / by Molly Schiot

  Photo: The 1974 Iranian women's fencing team, winners of the gold medal at the 1974 Asian Games. To date, this is the only gold medal Iranian women athletes have won in international competition.   Prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, female sports centres and teams had begun to be established throughout the country.  The Taj Recreation Centre became the first club to train women.  As Batool Bagheri, one of the first Iranian football players, described it "in 1970, after a long struggle, we found a place where we could hold our practices. Before that, we sometimes played without husbands and brothers in the alleyways, but in 1970 we gained official permission to, without men, practice on a real field." When the new Islamist government took hold in 1979, women's sporting competitions were disbanded for several years. When they were reinstated in 1981, veiling of all female athletes was made mandatory and gender segregation rules meant that women coaches, referees and managers would need to be trained before women's sporting events could be reinstated. It would not be until 1990 that Iranian women would compete internationally again. 

 

Photo: The 1974 Iranian women's fencing team, winners of the gold medal at the 1974 Asian Games. To date, this is the only gold medal Iranian women athletes have won in international competition.   Prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, female sports centres and teams had begun to be established throughout the country.  The Taj Recreation Centre became the first club to train women.  As Batool Bagheri, one of the first Iranian football players, described it "in 1970, after a long struggle, we found a place where we could hold our practices. Before that, we sometimes played without husbands and brothers in the alleyways, but in 1970 we gained official permission to, without men, practice on a real field." When the new Islamist government took hold in 1979, women's sporting competitions were disbanded for several years. When they were reinstated in 1981, veiling of all female athletes was made mandatory and gender segregation rules meant that women coaches, referees and managers would need to be trained before women's sporting events could be reinstated. It would not be until 1990 that Iranian women would compete internationally again.