‘Mentally, challenging’: Athletes adapt to training during Ramadan

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The players and coaches on BIH FC, a semi-pro soccer club based in Grand Rapids, are excited to be back on the field gearing up for their new season. 

“Just to be on the field, outside is incredible,” Elmedin Zukic, the team’s coach, said. 

FC BIH will play in the Midwest Premier League. 

Several players on the team are Muslim. Some of them are practicing with the team while observing Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. During Ramadan, those celebrating don’t eat or drink during daylight hours. 

“I kind of adapted to knowing I can’t eat or drink, so I just go help the coach set up for the next drill,” Fikret Hasovic, a member of the team, said. 

Not being able to eat during daylight means they must get up early to get food in their bodies. 

“Today, I woke up around 4:50 a.m., I believe. I had a lot of fruit, a lot of dates … some orange juice, and water,” Vedad Vila, a goalkeeper on the squad, said.

For the players observing Ramadan, it’s more than just a time to fast — It’s a time of reflection and community. 

“It makes me feel like I’m good because I do what the religion wants me to do,” Hasovic said. 

The coaching staff lightens the load at practice for the players fasting, but it’s not easy being out on the field. 

BIH FC, a semi-pro soccer club based in Grand Rapids, practices on April 27, 2021.

“I think the worst part for me is thirst. I get a little thirstier during games,” Vila said. 

“That whole part leading up to practice is most difficult for me as opposed to being at training itself,” Danijal Dizdarevic, a senior member of the squad, said.

Knowing that a big meal awaits them after practice helps them stay focused. 

“Mentally, challenging,” Dizdarevic said. “I like to think to myself, you’ll get rewarded at the end of the night.”

Ramadan ends on May 12. FC BIH will play its first game on May 22 against Livonia City FC. 

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