Blues Academy stars share their Ramadan story

Blues Academy stars share their Ramadan story

Two of Blues’ young players have shared their experiences of balancing life as an Academy footballer and observing Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the time that the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

It means that between Saturday 2 April and Sunday 1 May, all Muslims, including Under-15s Academy players Mohammed Yussuf Ahmed and Zaid Betteka, will not eat or drink during daylight hours, as during the month-long observation Muslims consume their food and drink in the window of time before dawn and then after sunset.

Taking time to tell more, Zaid started by explaining how the fasting process can take some time to get used to and why it matters so much to him.

He said: “It is going well; I think you adjust after the first week or so. Dehydration is the biggest thing you have to get used to I think – just that feeling of being thirsty, especially now it is getting warmer. But I have been going to the mosque since I was young and trying to balance my football with my religion is very important to me.”

For Mohammed Yussuf, he has been grateful to see the understanding of Ramadan grow amongst his teammates and coaches, all of whom have been willing to help as much as they can throughout the holy month.

He explained: “I remember the Ramadan before this, one of the staff members at Blues saw that it was a really hot day. They came over during a training session and gave us ice to cool down with and phoned our parents to let them know we were okay and that they could pick us up early if they wanted to.

“More recently at a national qualifying event, one of our coaches sorted us a spare room to pray in away from the group. It’s just small things like that I feel are really kind and make us feel supported.

“With our teammates, I feel like they are nice about it. They ask how the fasting is going and we try and talk to them about it as well."

Earlier this month a Bundesliga game was halted to allow Mainz defender Moussa Niakhate to break his fast – a video that has now been watched all over the world. And Zaid says he was allowed to do the same in a recent game, thanks to the intervention of his coach Andy Crabtree.

Zaid told “It was a 6.30pm kick-off and I broke my fast at 7.45 during the match. I let the manager Andy know the times I could break my fast at the start of the day. He spoke to the refs who then let me leave the pitch to break my fast during the game quickly and I came back on and carried on”.

Speaking further of the gesture, Mohamed Yussef added: “It shows a togetherness and understanding that people want to help, even though they might not be fasting themselves.

“I saw on the telly that it happened during a Leicester game for Wesley Fofana. It is good – it shows no matter what race or religion you are, we can understand and respect each other’s beliefs."

In the UK, Ramadan will end on Sunday 1st May, with a celebration called Eid ul-Fitr – the Feast of Fast-Breaking.

(Picture: Zaid Betteka (left) and Mohammed Yussuf Ahmed (right).)