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Sunday, May 29, 2022

First midnight football session for women during Ramadan held in Dewsbury

The first midnight football session for women fasting during Ramadan was held in Dewsbury last week with another session planned for tonight.

The first midnight football session for South Asian women who fast during Ramadan was held in Dewsbury last week, with another session planned for tonight.

Around twenty-two members of Ready Steady Active, a sports organisation established by Rashida Salloo in 2014, took part in an almost two-hour long football session that began at midnight at Kick Off Dewsbury last Friday.

Ramadan is a month of introspection and reflection, with those who meet a certain economic threshold donating money to charity and those in need. Those who are able also fast during the day to become closer to God and atone for any mistakes made in the previous year.

The women played until almost 2am last week.

Devotees who fast do not consume food or drink from sunrise to sunset, beginning their day with Suhoor (a morning meal before the sun comes up) and Iftar (an evening meal where the fast is broken, usually with dates and water, followed by a substantial meal, for the day).

For these reasons, many sports providers who serve Muslim communities limit or postpone physical activity sessions until after the holy month is over to ensure that people who are fasting do not miss opportunities or overexert themselves without access to food or water.

When not in Ramadan, women from Ready Steady Active would meet on a Sunday morning to play an hour’s game of footie. With many of the ladies wanting to continue their sports session during the holy month, the founder and director of Ready Steady Active created the midnight session so that they would be able to play after they have broken their fast for the day.

Ms Salloo said: “We normally run a Sunday morning session from 10am to 11am throughout the year. With it being Ramadan, we have put all sessions on hold. Knowing that we have women who are interested in continuing some sort of activity, we organised our first midnight session last Friday and have another planed for tonight.

The session is from 12am to 1am, but last week we had a group of hardcore girls who wanted to continue, so we stayed on the pitch to about quarter to two. We chose midnight because the ladies would have had their Iftars and a couple of hours to do their prayers.

“We had twenty-two women play during the first session, it was really positive. A lot of the work that Ready Steady Active does is about opening doors and providing women with the opportunity to access sports and physical activity sessions.

Almost two dozen women showed up for the session. 

“More and more women want to remain active; they did a lot of hard work before Ramadan, and they do not want to lose their fitness levels. It is also the social aspect, where a lot of the women came together with friends they would normally only see during the weekend when they have the football session.”

The sports director added: “When I first came up with the session, I didn’t believe that twenty-two women would turn up. I hoped that around eight or ten women would show up, so we had enough for a game of five-a-side. In the end, we had more than double that. I had reservations about putting on the sessions, but it is always worth trying it out.

“With sports, the demand is always there but it is about making sure that we communicate the sessions in the right way and make people feel that it is safe and the right environment for them.

The sessions are currently only available for women over the age of eighteen due to the sessions being late at night. For more information on the session or about Ready Steady Active, please contact Rashida Salloo at RSAreadysteadayactive@gmail.com.

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