Hertfordshire's Inaugural Ramadan Football Tournament
Earlier this year, Watford Football Club CSE Trust hosted the inaugural Ramadan Football Tournament in partnership with One Vision, Watford Borough Council, Herts Sports Partnership, Hertfordshire FA, Watford Interfaith Association and the Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service.
As the country began to emerge from the winter lockdown restrictions the 'goal' of the event was to bring communities together to unite through a shared passion of playing football at a time when it was needed most. The event took place at night time (commencing at 10.45pm) to encourage participation from those within the Muslim communities observing Ramadan; enabling them to break their fast and take part in sport.
There was a danger of a last-minute cancellation after the Watford FC's domed training area was deemed and indoor venue and was therefore ruled out due to the Covid-19 restrictions at the time. However, with some quick actions, the football club were able to supply portable floodlights to their outdoor training pitches to ensure the event had a compliant venue.
The result was over 150 people from a variety of backgrounds, including a range of cultures, races, religions and ages; using sport to break down barriers and bring people together. The tournament also included a participants on the Watford FC CSE Trust's Positive Minds; Man On! programme which uses football based physical activity and conversation cafes to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Attending Chair of the Watford Interfaith Association, Harjit Singh, commented that "things like food and sport, those are the kind of ingredients that we need to bring to actually bring communities together and to be part of the whole society that we live in".
Akbar, a representative of the winning side (Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association - AMYA) commented: "Watford FC have always been a fantastic organisation and football club in terms of trying to really reach out to communities and groups of all sorts to help and support, but also to try and involve as many people in the game as well, its been great to see and its been a pleasure to be a part of it. So many different types of communities and groups together, playing together, after what's been a challenging period of time. Such events really make you also feel how important it is in terms of community work, in terms of working together, in terms of really engaging the in the right sort of way as well."
Contributing organisations are very keen for the tournament to become an annual event so keep an eye out for Hertfordshire's second Ramadan Football Tournament in 2022.