Amakhosi striker Samir Nurković and defender Yagan Sasman are observant members of the Islamic faith. The two players are observing the Holy Month of Ramadan which began towards the end of April, where Muslims fast daily from dawn to sunset.
Nurković says this month of spirituality for Muslims brings with it a different set of challenges for him as he has had to manage both training and his diet at this time with the assistance of the Club. “I am constantly in contact with the coach, trainers and the Club doctors. They have guided me on how to approach training as well as what my diet needs to be.”
The Serbian striker has also given insight into what his day looks like during Ramadan, saying: “I normally have breakfast at around 4:00 am and begin the fast just after 5:00 am. Until Monday we had a 10:00 video training session, but with the change in regulations, I jog around at 07:30 am for half an hour, train and then get some rest. Here the fast finishes fairly early, so just after 17:00 I have dinner and relax for a while. Because of all this, the training does not take a real toll on me as it is also not hot, and the days are not too long.”
Nurković was anticipating to have been playing matches at the time prior to the national lockdown. He had geared his mind towards being active at this time and managing his fast differently.
“My faith is important to my success and I always had an eye on Ramadan. I was planning as to how I would approach it had we been in our usual system. I would have given my all to my training regime. Generally, my coaches and teammates always help in these situations and are mindful and always manage me in a good way,” he adds.
Chiefs Doctor Mohammed Moosajee has previously worked with the South African National Cricket team during Ramadan, where they had as many as six players fasting on certain tours. He says the players’ training regime and diet are important. He also stresses the importance of when they begin their fast in the morning that they take in enough nutrients as fruits and vegetables.
“Generally, our training is low intensity in the morning and prior to them breaking the fast. They train again at higher intensity andl burn a lot of calories. So, when they do break their fast, they need to take in the fuel so as to replenish whatever they have lost to cover up for the fast and exercise,” adds Dr Moosajee.
The doctor also emphasises that the training regime for each player varies at this time. “If we look at our two players, we have had to individualise our plans for them. Yagan is used to current fasting in the South African conditions. While Samir comes from a different environment where the food is different and also the weather conditions differ. The plan for each player is tailored for them”.
Amakhosi coach Ernst Middendorp explains on the issue of his players training in Ramadan adding, “we discussed the approach we should take as the technical team. So, Samir and Yagan have been managing well”.
The month of Ramadan should end on the 22nd or 23rd May dependent on the sighting of the moon when Muslims around the globe will celebrate the holiday of Eid Ul-Fitr. At this time Kaizer Chiefs would like to wish all their fans observing the month of Ramadan, Ramadan Kareem.