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Nelson taekwondo mum appeals for funding to help her get to the Olympics

Aneila is hoping to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Aneila is hoping to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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With the centenary of women's suffrage being celebrated in the UK this year, a young mother from Nelson is appealing for help as she tackles anti-maternal obstacles she faces on her journey which she hopes will see her represent Team GB at the Olympics.


Having first found her now-deadly feet in the sport of taekwondo as a hyperactive six-year-old at Nelson Community Centre, Aneila Afsar has since gone on to travel to 19 different countries, win countless medals, and compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Aneila with her daughter, Mira.

Aneila with her daughter, Mira.

Now 19, married, and blessed with a young daughter, Aneila is appealing for help with fundraising to enable her to travel to upcoming international tournaments offering her the invaluable chance to earn precious ranking points ahead of the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester and then the Tokyo Olympics the year after.

While she has always found it relatively tough to get the money together to ensure that she could compete at the highest level, Aneila has found mainstream funding even harder to come by now that she is over the age of 18, as previous support from SportsAid has dried up and her scholarships at Pendle Vale College and Burnley College have ended.

And what is more, she has found the willingness of potential sponsors to support her diminishes somewhat when they find out that she is a mother, leading her to believe that she has been unfairly tarnished as a 'dormant athlete.'

"As a female athlete with a child, a lot of people consider me as out of action, whereas if I was a male athlete there wouldn't be a problem," explained Aneila, who trains at Ultimate Taekwondo in Doncaster under former-Olympian Kathy Hook. "It's really frustrating because I'm working twice as hard as other athletes.

Struggling for sponsorship, Aneila is hoping to raise enough to allow her to travel to upcoming competitions which offer her the chance to win important ranking points.

Struggling for sponsorship, Aneila is hoping to raise enough to allow her to travel to upcoming competitions which offer her the chance to win important ranking points.

"When I do approach people for sponsorship and they find out I've had a baby, instead of asking me about upcoming tournaments, I'm questioned on who looks after my child whilst I'm at training, which is quite sexist," she added. "That's what I'm exposed to."

With Aneila targeting the Slovenian Open later this month and the Dutch Open in early March, she is aiming to raise £1,500, and despite feeling sore and picking up a few small injuries when she first returned to training just five weeks after giving birth, she now says that she is as fit as she has ever been.

"I'm hoping that by having the opportunity to go to these competitions, I can prove everybody wrong," said Aneila, who lives in Manchester with her husband, Abdelkayoum Bedri, and their daughter, Mira Imaan Bedri. "I had my first fight back three months postpartum [at the Quest Open in Bradford], which is very soon, and I won it with flying colours.

"If I had more funding I could definitely be doing better - I'm hoping to be a role model for young mothers who think they have to give up on their dreams, because that's not true at all," she added. "Everything's still possible.

"When I win a tournament, I intend to pick up my daughter and hold her on the podium as I get my medal."

To make a donation in support of Aneila, head to https://www.gofundme.com/support-commonwealth-champ-aneila