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Birmingham Newman University Researcher Addresses Challenges Faced by Muslim Footballers During Ramadan

Dr. Ibrahim Akubat

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, millions of Muslims worldwide begin to observe fasting, avoiding food and drink from dawn till dusk. This can pose natural challenges to the body such as hunger, thirst and low energy levels. Dr. Ibrahim Akubat, a researcher at Birmingham Newman University, has been actively engaged in addressing these challenges and providing support to Muslim footballers navigating Ramadan.

Dr. Akubat’s recent work has garnered attention as he collaborates with organisations such as the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the Premier League, and various professional football clubs in the UK and overseas. Reflecting on the last few months Dr Akubat tell us

“We’ve been planning since last year. We’ve managed to create a resource in combination with the PFA. It’s a unique resource in that it brings together the lived experience of players, theological considerations and also scientific expertise and research to provide informed practice recommendations for staff supporting players. We also developed a guide for specifically for players who would be fasting that has gone out to all Muslim players. A webinar titled Fasting & Football’24 for practitioners at football clubs proved very popular with attendees around the world from Ecuador to Australia. Several premier league and English football league clubs were in attendance too. I’ve also been featured in the ‘Sport and Exercise Scientist’ with an article on supporting Muslim athletes in Ramadhan. The last few weeks I’ve been speaking to lots of clubs, developing practice and putting together research plans.

“The research is looking at both first-team players and players in the youth teams and development pathways. It has been really encouraging to see teams come forward and want to get involved in the research. I am proud to say that the UK is leading the way on that front.

“The recent inclusion initiatives, anti-discrimination directives and focus on player’s physical and mental welfare in my opinion really changed the culture inside football clubs. As a result, we’re seeing such work take place and everyone involved in that deserves credit.”

Dr. Akubat’s research focuses on understanding the impact of fasting on athletes’ performance and recovery. He explained,

“We still only have primitive data on how fasting impacts athletes’ performance and recovery. My expertise lies in athlete monitoring strategies. In recent years lots of data is collected on player’s performance, recovery and their readiness to train and play. We will be examining this data to try and gain insights that will help develop better practices in future to support players.”

By leveraging data-driven approaches and athlete monitoring strategies, his research aims to fill critical gaps in knowledge and inform best practices for supporting Muslim footballers.

As Dr. Akubat’s research continues to gain momentum with his findings promising to contribute significantly to the development of informed practices for supporting Muslim athletes during Ramadan and beyond. Through collaboration and innovation, Birmingham Newman University stands at the forefront of addressing unique challenges, reaffirming its commitment to excellence in research and inclusivity within the sporting community.

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