I like playing football and I knew I wasn’t busy at midnight…
Recently, I saw an advert for Midnight Ramadan Football, organised by BME Sport Cymru to encourage Muslims to keep active during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on Saturday.
As Ramadan means fasting all through the day, including not drinking water (which is quite handy during exercise), the game is an opportunity to take part in sport during the break in the fast.
BME Sport Cymru aims to make a difference to the inclusion of BME (black and minority ethnic) communities in sport, and this is the first time they have organised the sessions in Cardiff, after seeing it was a popular idea elsewhere in the UK.
On Friday, I got in touch to check that non-Muslims were able to play and Simon at BME Sport Cymru replied straight away. He confirmed that it was absolutely fine and that they had spaces, so I signed up.
Turning up at the House of Sport centre at midnight, I was welcomed by Simon and some of the players. We started warming up and we all got chatting.
Communities from all across the city were represented, including Somali, Congolese, Senegalese, Bangladeshi, Sudanese, Pakistani, Eritrean, Guinean, Yemeni and Chinese, and it was interesting to hear more about how observing Ramadan impacts exercise and work routines through the month.
But we weren’t there to chat. The warm-up showed that there was plenty of talent on show and piledriving shots were flying in from everywhere – this was going to be a proper game.
We kicked off and, although the others may have just eaten a big meal to break their fast, there was no holding back. It was fast and frantic, and there was no time to be worrying about sleep.
These days, I am used to playing five-a-side on small pitches which stops when the ball goes over head-high, so it was a great change to play nine-a-side on the bigger pitch.
I put some tackles in, chased long balls over the top, got beaten by some ridiculous skills and basically just tried to keep up.
The session flew by and it was thoroughly enjoyable (apart from when I blazed my best chance over the bar), and it was 2am before I knew it. There was food afterwards (watermelon and biryani on offer to all) as the fast started again at 3am.
The sessions are happening again at weekends for the next month, and if you were interested in getting involved, Simon would be delighted to hear from you.
Marathon-training permitting, I hope to get along again – partly because I strongly believe it is so important for communities to interact and sport is a great unifier, but also because I am gutted I missed that chance in front of goal and I would like to put that right.
Thanks to BME Sport Cymru and all the players for the game. Da iawn pawb.
More information and contact details on Twitter at @SportsBme
(I know this post isn’t about running as such, but I did do a lot of running on the pitch)