Athletes Participating in Ramadan; Off the Field

Athletes participating in Ramadan have a lot to contend with, from fasting during daylight hours, to competing sports schedules. We explore in this Off the Field, presented by Molly Maid of Aurora Naperville Area.

Let’s face it – while it’s fun to have sports return, athletes in 2021 are being asked to do a lot, perhaps more than ever. From doubling up with club and high school teams, to preparing for back-to-back seasons, to near simultaneous calendars – it’s a bit of a whirlwind. Then, for our Muslim student-athletes, the month of Ramadan has added yet another element into the mix.

Mohammad Totten: Ramadan is something that we have to do because God told us it’s something we have to accept and be grateful that we have so much. When we’re fasting, it puts things in perspective the people that are needy and don’t have that much and don’t have that food. We’re grateful that we have money and can eat.

Mohammad Totten is both a football and lacrosse player at Naperville Central. On top of cleating up for both teams, Ramadan requires those of the faith to fast from sun up to sun down. Meaning, no food or water between roughly 6am until 8pm.

Mohammad Totten: The worst part of it is probably, – not the whole day – but the last 40 minutes of the day. Because I won’t be hungry from breakfast until lunch but it’s the last 40 minutes actually when you’re craving something to eat and you know the time is close.

On top of battling the urge to eat, the necessity of proper hydration is fundamental for performance on the field… or on the track.

Mamadu Diallo: It’s a mental thing. I know that other boys that I’ll be racing won’t be fasting and I’ll be at practice and I will be fasting but it definitely builds me mentally and makes me stronger and I know that after I come out after fasting I’ll be able to drop some crazy times.

Mamadu Diallo is a member of the Metea Valley track and cross-country teams. While the month of Ramadan shifts by 10 to 11 days each year, the tradition falls during track in 2021, meaning teammates get a closer look at what Diallo goes through while fasting, even asking questions.

Mamadu Diallo: Oh yeah, all the time. They think it’s kind of crazy and quite impossible but once you start doing it for a long time and get used to it, it’s like second nature. I also fast voluntarily throughout the year, like twice a week, so it really isn’t that big of a deal when Ramadan comes.

Ramadan ends on May 12, which is marked by equal emphasis placed on feasting and charity. It also means the days of waking up at 4 am and consuming a days worth of food and drink are over… for another 11 months or so for Totten and Diallo.

For more prep sports content, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page!

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