Fasting eats at famous coach

2009-08-29 15:16

INTER Milan manager Jose ­Mourinho is seemingly opposed to ­fasting by Muslim players during Ramadan, but some local coaches stand to differ.

Throughout the world, Muslims are abstaining from food or drinks

during daylight hours to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The fast will last until September 20, and the outspoken

Portuguese-born Mourinho has already made some unsavoury comments about


In South Africa, Cape Town clubs Ajax Cape Town and Santos seem to

be the Premier Soccer League (PSL) sides with the most players and officials who

are Muslims.

Santos coach Boebie Solomons has described the holy month as a

testing exercise, particularly for players.

“Four of my players are fasting and there is no special provision

as far as our training schedule is ­concerned.”

The four are Tasleem Paulse, ­Graham King, Rafiq Isaacs and Shafiq

Arendse and chief operations officer Edries Burton.

Solomons added that observing the practice religiously was not cast

in stone.

“You can eat at times or if you don’t feel well. But, you won’t

feel okay in your heart.”

Solomons also revealed that when he joined Black Leopards about two

years ago, part of the agreement with the Limpopo club was to allow him to take

a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The well-travelled mentor said every Muslim is expected to make a

pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime – as required by the five

pillars of Islam.

Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral and defender Nazeer Allie are also

commemorating Ramadan.

Ertugral, a Turk, said he does not interfere with his players’

religious beliefs.

“I also celebrate Ramadan and I know the challenges that players

who fast go through particularly when we play back- to-back fixtures. I coached

in the Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Tunisia before.

“Egyptians have strong beliefs. So I have learnt not to interfere

with my players’ religious or traditional beliefs,” said Ertugral, who unlike

Solomons, has a special training programme for players who are ­fasting.

While the two coaches are very understanding towards Muslim

players, the same can’t be said of Mourinho. He substituted midfielder Sully

Muntari for his poor performance in a 1-1 draw against Bari last weekend.

“Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan, perhaps with this

heat it’s not good for him to be doing this (fasting). Ramadan has not arrived

at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match,” ­Mourinho told


Specialists agree with Mourinho.

“Fasting will probably make players perform badly. If they train

hard and play matches, this will deplete them of the energy stored in their

muscles,” said Professor Andrew Bosch, sports scientist at University of Cape


He illustrated that if a fasting Muslim player starts the day with

his energy levels at 100 units, it would be down to almost 50 by the end of the

day.When he breaks the fast, it will only go up to about 70, only to drop again

the next day.

Other key SA players who observe fasting are Bafana Bafana and La

Liga’s Racing Santander defender Nasief Morris and Orlando Pirates’ Moeneeb


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