Obayed Hussain, an Islamic scholar, qualified football coach, and Equality Officer for the Birmingham FA has launched UK's first Ramadan Midnight League. Every Friday throughout Ramadan, over 150 people of all backgrounds from the Birmingham area have gathered together to take part in a round-robin tournament overseen by FA-qualified coaches and ex-professionals under the lights from midnight until 2.30 am.
The 7-a-side league, hosted by the Birmingham Football Association at the Aston Villa Foundation, has encouraged other regional FA’s to follow suit. During Ramadan, Muslims who fast for up to 19 hours a day, hardly find time and energy to exercise. The Ramadan Midnight League gives people to participate in the sport they love, without impacting fasting and prayer times. What was originally set up to provide Muslims with a space to keep fit during Ramadan has evolved into something bigger and has seen the wider community wanting to take part and to learn about the Islamic holy month.
Chief executive of the Birmingham FA, Kevin Shoemake, supported the league’s ambition in bringing together people of all faiths, backgrounds and ages. Aston Villa legend, Shaun Teale, who suggests that ‘the next Mo Salah’ could be amongst the players, paying tribute to the profound effect the Liverpool player has had in shining a spotlight on Muslim sporting role models this year.
Obayed Hussain, the founder of the league, said: “The Ramadan Midnight League is about providing a space for people of all backgrounds to come together, to have fun and to keep active during a time of great importance to the Muslim community.”