TAT Sports Explores fasting and playing Football in Ramadan

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By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh 

After match day, 30 Gambian foreign-based players in Senegal have scored a combined 24 goals, with Abdoulie Gassama and Ismaila Ceesay in the top three. Pa Ousmane Senghor (Guediawaye FC), Abdoulie Kah (Stade De Mbour) Modou Manneh (Jaraaf) are midfielders who have been dominant in their position and are equally pushing their teams.

However, the Senegalese Ligue1 is known for stopping players from fasting during the Muslim holy month. The Alkamba Times found out the repercussions.

The Premier League is leading by example compared to French Ligue1. As early as April 2021, Wesley Fofana could break his fast in a match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace. Fast forward to this season’s matches, officials across the leagues have been asked to allow players to break their fast during evening games over the holy period of Ramadan.

Football has always been vital in bringing people together, perhaps in this holy month.

After Stamford Bridge, Tottenham, and Aston Villa’s Villa Park opened its doors to the Muslim community in England for (Iftar) fast-breaking meal.

Our neighbors Senegal Senegal is putting a stumbling block to the players.

Gambian international goalkeeper Modou Jobe who spent three and half years in Senegal, is familiar with the issue of Ligue1 coaches stopping players from fasting before matches.

“In Senegal, especially when you are a Gambian, it doesn’t matter even if you score five goals; when Ramadan comes, you will start to fight with them, coaches and fans will say you don’t have to fast, and that is not right. ” Jobe revealed

“Senegal is like that; you over struggle. During my time at Niary Tally, they said nobody should fast. If you insist on fasting, you won’t be included in the team, nor will you travel; you are excluded from the training. The president intervened and told them I was fasting on Mondays & Thursdays and was good to go. I went to Linguere; Amara Trawally was causing havoc that any fast player won’t play. He wasn’t the coach, but he was pushing that agenda to the coach; he would further go even by saying three days before the match, no fasting. During that duration, I missed 4-5 games. Once they noticed that things were going south, they called me back to the fold. Ndiambour’s experience could have been better. We used to train twice, and it didn’t affect me, but we were categorically told football doesn’t go with fasting. If one falls here, they will sanction the team. I told them I would fast.”

Jobe, whose professional career has seen him play in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia before moving to South Africa, attests that he didn’t struggle in Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“When I returned from the national team in March, it collided with Ramadan. Week 13, I was meant to start, but we were invited three days before the match, and I didn’t eat and was asked why. I told them I was fasting. We trained until the day before the match, and I was expected to play, but they removed me from the team. Because I was fasting, I didn’t travel with the team, and they beat us 1-0. Next match, I was reinstated to the starting XI.”

MDI mosque imam Muhammed Jobe

“Playing football matches is not an excuse to break yours fast during Ramadan. As a Muslim, anything that they put forward in front of you and your religion, you have to pick your faith and throw the other away. Religion is to be adhered to without a doubt and for the sake of Allah. Here is something for this worldly gain if you do it, you become rich, gain fame, position, etc. but always cling to your deen and let go of that 90 minutes. Breaking your fast without a valid excuse, the prophet said there is punishment and a hadith.” 

 Liberia U20 coach Tafa Manneh

“When matters involve religion, nobody decides for anybody. I don’t stop my players from fasting; it’s left to them. What’s important is to advise the players on the outcome of failing too fast. It’s wrong to stop players from fasting because of football. It’s not right. In football, you don’t put yourself in those areas. Players know the importance of the game; if they decide too fast, you should guide them. Your role as a coach is that you are a father and guardian to them. Nobody should put themselves in those areas. Even international level, you see players fasting and playing football.”

Coach Manneh with Liberian President George Weah, a former footballer himself.

Different opinions and research have shown what fasting does to elite athletes. Some research indicates that the chance you lose fatter is very high when you fast and exercise. This is because it helps in your brain and energy activities. While others say when you fast, your energy is already low, and you consume extra energy. But more things are towards the good part of it. It helps you lose weight and help develop your brain.

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