Leicester City first-team coach Kolo Toure tells Sky Sports News about the ups and downs faced by Muslim players during the holy Ramadan period which begins in April.
The two-time Premier League winner has highlighted the importance of Islam in his life and the impact this hallowed time has had on a player.
“My religion is everything and without my religion I don’t think I would be who I am now, because I feel like my religion has moved me forward and made me a better person.”
Every year, Muslims undergo a holy period called Ramadan. Lasting about a month – this involves fasting during the day, regular daily prayers, self-reflection and acts of charity.
The Premier League is made up of several observant Muslims who will be fasting throughout April’s busy sporting schedule.
Ramadan takes place this year between the evening of Saturday April 2 and the evening of Sunday May 1.
The former Arsenal captain, who made his debut for the Gunners over 20 years ago, highlighted some of the challenges he faced during his playing days and how Ramadan influences a player’s psychology .
“But as soon as you start Ramadan, the first day is very difficult, the second day is really difficult. The first week is very difficult. And then your body gets used to it and you don’t even start thinking about water. . “
The former Manchester City defender has revealed that during his childhood, when it came to fasting, he was better than his younger brother Yaya.
“With Yaya on an empty stomach, I’m sure I’d beat him easily, definitely.” The duo were part of Manchester City’s champion squad in 2011/2012.
Toure highlighted the significant improvement in his performance during his playing days and the psychological improvement he has experienced over the years.
“You have to make sure they don’t notice you’re fasting.
“I think that’s the key. And that’s what I tried to do. Whenever I try to focus more on training, try not to show any weakness.”
Touré also mentions why some Muslim athletes believe it is important to participate in Ramadan.
“If they don’t do Ramadan, they won’t perform well because psychologically they’re going to be weak. You feel like I’m not connected to Allah, and that will make it soft and won’t play very well,” said the defender who won the League with Arsenal, Manchester City and Celtic.
Toure attended last season’s Monday night football match between Leicester and Crystal Palace, where the game was interrupted for Wesley Fofana to break his fast.
Fofana thanked the Premier League for the gesture which was the first time in Premier League history that a match was abandoned for a Muslim player to break off quickly.
He underlined the impact for the Muslim players when the game was stopped in the 34th minute.
“That’s where you can see the world moving forward with people. You can see people trying to understand each other, which is essential in the world, and I think you can see some inclusion.”
Several Premier League clubs now have facilities suited to the religious beliefs of their staff. These include halal food options, multi-faith prayer rooms and registration at the Muslim Athletes Charter.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr or “Eid” for short, this translates to “The Feast of Fast Breaking”. The occasion consists of family and friends exchanging gifts and joining in a special feast.
Touré, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast in 2015, jokes that he is not the captain of his house during the Eid holiday.
“My favorite dish will be what my wife cooks, really. You know she’s the boss,” he added.
“We eat food from Ivory Coast. Here in the UK you can find African food easily, there’s no problem, it’s amazing, you really feel at home.”