No rest for sport during Ramadan


© Mike Young / The National Al Wasl players take a drinks break at night training during Ramadan

There is a common misconception that sport in the UAE shuts down completely over the long, hot summer months.

While it is true that the cast list of world-class sporting events to descend on the Emirates is consigned to the cooler months -- for the benefit of athletes and specators alike -- sport continues to thrive over the summer and the holy month Ramadan is more the reason to participate than to repel sport and physical recreation.

As The National's sports reporter Ahmed Rizvi discovers in his feature on sport during the holy month of Ramadan, UAE athletes actually revel in the challenge of going about their training while fasting.

Schedules, sleeping and eating habits have to change, but the UAE's seasoned professional footballers have been juggling the summer months for their life.

To quote the Al Jazira midfielder Subait Khater: "We have been doing this since childhood - fasting and playing. For us, we are used to this. We don't have any problems. To the outsider, it might seem a bit difficult and it is difficult, but for us it is a way of life."

But what else is happening in the UAE? As you will find at our cricket blog, Ramadan is the time when the local cricket scene comes alive at night with three tournaments over the duration of the month.

The Armed Forces Officers Club are now into their 15th year of their Ramadan Festival, which includes boxing, seven-a-side football, ice hockey, judo, wrestling, karate, jiu-jitsu, fencing, bowling, shooting and chess. Even if you are not part of the club, there will be several intra-office football tournaments ongoing.

Even the Al Ain Raceway is open for business for night races.

OK, so this is not high-level sport for the casual spectator, but it is a surprising stop-gap for what's just around the corner when the UAE football season starts.

The arrival of Diego Maradona at Al Wasl has already got mouths watering.

Published: August 7, 2011 04:00 AM


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