ANN ARBOR - One of AFC Ann Arbor's newest players scored a goal in his first game last week despite fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Twenty-three-year-old Yazeed Matthews has been fasting during Ramadan since he can remember, and even soccer doesn't come between him and his religion.
The South African native said it is simply part of his life and that, contrary to what many might believe, it doesn't affect his game.
"If I’m at practice, it’s not different for me -- it’s just normal," said Matthews. "I think most of the guys don’t even remember that I’m fasting because I don’t complain or anything. I’ve been doing it all my life so I guess I’m kind of used to it now."
Though practices are manageable, he said he does struggle with dehydration following games.
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Matthews arrived in Ann Arbor on May 13 and played his first game May 17, scoring his first goal for The Mighty Oak. The award-winning forward recently played for Coastal Carolina University and is considered one of the top college scorers in the country.
Although he's only been here a short time, he is impressed with the team. "The team is very organized and everything is done professionally and I like the environment," he said. "The coaches have been helpful and understanding of me fasting."
The main challenge he faces while fasting are long summer evenings when the sun sets late.
"This is my first time fasting while I’ve been in America because I usually go home," he said. "The days are longer here. At home, I eat around 5:30 in the afternoon and here, it’s been 9 o’clock. So it’s an extra four hours. I’m getting used to it slowly."
During Ramadan, eating and drinking is forbidden during daylight hours. Most who observe the holiday wake up before sunrise to eat in order to help get through the day. But that means giving up sleep, which for some is more important than eating.
"I wake up around 4 a.m., but some days I don’t wake up," he said. "If I wake up at 4 a.m., I’ll fall asleep around 5 again and then I have to be up at 6:45 for practice."
Read more about Matthews here.
Follow updates on AFC Ann Arbor's season at www.afcannarbor.com.
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