Hazara community shows fasting and football can go hand-in-hand [Express Tribune]

Hazara community shows fasting and football can go hand-in-hand [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: The Hazara community in Quetta continues to suffer from low income, violence and a multitude of other problems. For years now, they have been seeking solace from these issues in football. And come Ramazan, they still flock to the fields like they do for the rest of the year.

The players gather at the Hazara Town Football Ground, which the land mafia is trying to encroach; with plans to build a housing scheme there already underway. The locals, however, refuse to give up.

“We are hosting the All-Hazara Football Tournament here, and it is a regular annual fixture,” Hazara Sports Committee member Naimat Mazhar told The Express Tribune. “We hold it at the Hazara Town Ground because it is the only place where we can play football. People from all over Quetta come here to play. It is special in a way since all players competing in it are fasting.”

With no floodlights available at the ground, the matches must take place during the day; hence forcing the players to play while they fast. The games, therefore, have 35-minute halves rather than the usual 45, with a total of 41 teams competing this time around.

Bringing the community together

All Hazara Husainabad FC captain Muhammad Ali says the tournament becomes all the more meaningful when people gather to watch their matches.

“We are all fasting and we start to practice earlier in the day,” he said. “The matches take place around three or four, and despite the heat a lot of people come to watch us. That makes it very special for us.”

Ali feels lack of entertainment avenues leads people to come to grounds to watch matches in such tough conditions. “They come because most of the people don’t know what to do while they are fasting, so I guess we also provide them a good way to while away the time.”

Published in The Express Tribune, 8 June 2017