This Ramadan, footballers like Ali will be able to break their fast mid-match

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The A-League men’s and women’s competitions have introduced a new policy allowing Muslim players to break their fast mid-match during Ramadan, a move hailed as “significant”.

KEY POINTS
  • During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset.
  • The A-League has introduced a new policy allowing Muslim players to break their fast mid-match during Ramadan.
  • Players say the initiative represents not only an opportunity to replenish energy, but is a show of respect.
  • For footballers like Ali Auglah of Macarthur FC, matches played during this year’s Ramadan will differ considerably from those in the past.
  • In a groundbreaking move, the A-League men’s and women’s competitions have introduced a special window allowing Muslim players to break their fast during a match if it falls during the time of sunset.
  • The 22-year-old striker, who has observed Ramadan since childhood, describes the new initiative as “significant”.
  • “I think it is a significant decision in the soccer game especially for Muslim players,” he told SBS Arabic24.
  • Millions of Muslims worldwide observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting each day from dawn to sunset, including water.

For players like Auglah, Ramadan is not only a sacred period but a challenging one, having to perform without the adequate energy and hydration required in their profession

There have been increasing calls for policies to safeguard players observing Ramadan, including match days, according to Professional Footballer Australia’s Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch.

“Our playing group is representative of the many different backgrounds and faiths, and we need to ensure that the workplace environment ensures they feel supported and initiatives such as this are another step forward,” he said in a media release.

The 90-second break, which will occur when the ball is out of play in a neutral position, follows a similar policy introduced in global leagues such as the English Premier League and Major League Soccer in the US.

Both clubs and match officials can request the special break to occur up to 90 minutes before the kick-off.

“One palm-date and three sips of water is enough to break the fast,” Auglah explained.

The striker – who has three goals to his name so far this season across the A-League and regional AFC Cup – said that while fasting is good for a healthy body, managing the non-fasting period is crucial for athletes.

“We need to take enough healthy food and ample fluids especially between the iftar (meal at sunset) time till the pre-dawn meal, suhoor,” he said.

he in-match break represents more than an opportunity to replenish energy, another Macarthur FC youngster, Abdelelah Faisal, said.

It is also an acknowledgement that Muslim players are respected while they are observing Ramadan as part the multicultural Australia.

The 18-year-old attacker, who has been observing Ramadan for more than 10 years, said that while the holy month would provide him with “spiritual strength”, the break will “help the body a lot”.

The new initiative also assures Muslim players that they do not need to “conceal” their fast with the “fear of being excluded from the match”, according to sport activist Ahmed Mnahi.

“Now they will feel more comfortable to reveal they are on fasting as rules allow them to break their fast during the match, bringing them back to high energy to perform well in the game,” he said.

Sports dietitian Holly Edstein, who has worked with athletes observing Ramadan, also welcomed the new initiative.

“It demonstrates that the A-League really values having an inclusive competition while also appreciating the impact of nutrition on both the health and performance of the athletes,” she said.

She added that it will not only help with the physical output pf the athletes, but their cognitive function, including skill execution and decision-making.

This will enable them to sustain performance for longer while also reducing risk of injury that can be increased by fatigue

Holly Edstein, sports dietitian

Reference:

https://sbs.com.au/language/arabic/en/article/this-ramadan-footballers-like-ali-auglah-will-be-able-to-break-their-fast-mid-match/nil6cnu8e