Tuesday, 10 June 2014

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Tuesday 10th June 2014
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy

The weeks of speculation are finally over, and we all now know France’s Amelie Mauresmo is Andy Murray’s new tennis coach. Reading the commentaries, it’s interesting to see the reaction to the news of a woman coaching a man. In response Murray has clearly and quite brilliantly stated that he was coached by his own Mother, Judy Murray, till the age of 17, and that he’s always felt that he’s had a female influence on his tennis career.

I have just returned back from Miami to visit my own Mum for a few weeks, and reflecting on Murray’s decision made me think about how influential my Mum, as well as other women teachers have been in my life.  ‘Paradise lies at the feet of your Mother’ according to one prophetic tradition in Islam -  and in another story from that time, the prophet Muhammad is asked, ‘who merits their finest treatment’, to which the prophet states, ‘your mother’. He repeats this three times and only then does he say, ‘your father’.

Our closest biological bond from birth is with our Mothers – and for many of us, that’s also where we learn our earliest lessons–whether it’s sharing toys, tying our shoelaces, or playing tennis. Yet, the older we get and the more of society we’re exposed to, we start getting hemmed into categories based on our gender. This can be quite restrictive – the usual macho verses feminine stereotypes don’t quite allow us to be everything we can be. As an academic and teacher, I can see how damaging it is for young people, or in fact a person of any age, to place such limitations on themselves. I find Andy’s attitude refreshing – he’s chosen the best person he can learn from at this stage in his career – to be the best player be can be. And whatever our jobs or hopes, we all deserve to be the best we can be.