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Changing the Game: Ramadan, a better understanding

In preparation for Ramadan in early April, Jameel Rasheed, Director of Communications at Nujum Sports, explains how we can support Muslim athletes to be at their best

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The ECB is working with Nujum Sports, who officially launched in 2020 as a non-profit community interest company, to help and support Muslim athletes. Their mission is to see a world where Muslim athletes flourish and fulfil their potential.

As part of the ‘Changing the Game’ series, the ECB and Nujum Sports spoke with Abtaha Maqsood, Haseeb Hameed, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. So that recreational players and clubs have time to prepare, they offered their views on the key considerations for cricketers playing during Ramadan, to help manage diets and schedules, so that the needs of their faith and cricket can both be met.

Below, Jameel Rasheed, Director of Communications at Nujum Sports, explains how we can support Muslim athletes to be at their best during the holy month of Ramadan, and throughout the rest of the year.  

In today’s cricketing landscape we see a multi-cultural multitudinous array of sayings, expressions and attitudes on and off the green. After the 2019 ICC Men’s World Cup Final, England’s self-effacing captain Eoin Morgan was quoted as saying “We had Allah with us as well!”. He was quoting Adil Rashid, England’s world class leg-spinner from their post-game conversation, a clear shout-out to the diverse backgrounds and cultures that made up his World Cup winning squad.

Today, the UK has a variety of representatives of the cultures and faiths that spread along its shores. Being one of the largest faith-based groups in the UK, the Muslim community has representatives that not only play regularly in the England national teams but also throughout the English and Welsh counties and lower league systems.

Cricket is a staple of the sporting prowess you see in the UK Muslim community. With that said, cricket takes a back seat every year as the community shifts towards an increased spiritual and social cohesive movement. This movement that sweeps through most if not all Muslim communities around the world is the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. In the thirty days of Ramadan, most Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk, without food or drink to increase their closeness to God and to gain an understanding of the blessings that maybe taken for granted.

Abtaha Maqsood deflects on to the stumps

Abtaha Maqsood deflects on to the stumps

Ramadan is especially significant for Muslim athletes around the world while they ply their trade. Fasting for 15 hours a day is an initial struggle, but as you progress through the month it becomes part of you, it gives you strength and solitude, one of fasting’s main aims. For athletes, whether professional or amateur, it has challenges beyond the regular due to its effects on daily physical exercise. Athletes need a constant intake of nutrients throughout the day, a challenge that in Ramadan is usually a personal undisclosed journey. As Muslim athletes in sports are on the increase, not only in their number but in the practice of their faith, clubs and sporting organisations have started looking into the needs of Muslim athletes in this critical period.

At Nujum Sports, our core aim has always been to help and support Muslim athletes get the most they can from their sport, to excel without compromise and to develop into the great examples they want to be, both on and off the field, court or arena. After looking at the needs of Muslim athletes in all sports, it became apparently clear that Muslim athletes needed support and guidance in a variety of areas. To help athletes, clubs and sporting organisations better understand how Muslim athletes function we launched the Muslim Athlete Charter in 2021, focusing on 10 main areas.

From our discussions with Muslim athletes, it became apparent that these key areas needed highlighting and developing in order to build a path to progress. These areas are the core of the Muslim Athlete Charter, which include the preparation and understanding of Ramadan both for clubs and organisations and for colleagues and coaching staff.

The charter has had tremendous pickup throughout the sporting family, with cricket being a major focus due to two of the charter’s ambassadors, England’s Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Moeen Ali

Moeen Ali

For Ramadan 2022, we are proud to have teamed up with the England and Wales Cricket Board to discuss with several players what Ramadan means to them, how they prepare for its arrival and what advice they have for Muslim cricketers throughout the country. Their insight has given us a first-hand account of the unseen endeavours these athletes carry out to stay focused on their faith while performing at the high standards they have set for club and country. This year their preparation starts with informal discussions with their nutritionists to pre-Ramadan fasting as a way to prepare for the long month ahead, something they highlight through their interviews.

This year Ramadan will start on the 1st or 2nd April 2022 dependant on the new moon being sighted, this will not affect most amateur and country cricketers but will definitely have an impact on those players in the IPL, T20 and one-day tournaments.

So, watch out for athletes up and down the country starting their day at dawn and coming to life after sunset when they break their fast. The ECB’s educational Ramadan videos will be a great way for you to better understand what fasting means to our elite cricketers and how they balance their faith and athletic aspirations to be the best they can, whether that be locally, nationally or internationally.

This Ramadan let us all include ourselves in these blessings by remembering the journeys that have helped us all come together, to be the best we can be as a community and country.

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