An Apple TV camera captured an unusual scene at the local team’s bench in the 19th minute of last Saturday’s game between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake.
Crew right-back Mohamed Farsi, kneeling, takes advantage of a brief break in the game to frantically chew an unknown substance which he swallows with a good swig of an energy drink.
The team of commentators, confused at first, ends up enlightening the bewildered viewer. The meeting has just been interrupted by officials to allow players observing Ramadan to break their fast.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this period, people of the Muslim faith refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset.
Children, pregnant women or people affected by a medical condition, in particular, are exempt from this practice.
It is not uncommon to see top athletes avoid it because the requirements of their profession may be deemed incompatible with such deprivation.
Farsi, for his part, never wavered even as he rose through the ranks of professional soccer.
“To be honest, it’s not as difficult as you think. People who don’t think it’s really, really hard, but no.” Farsi said after the match.
The Quebecer Farsi, who describes himself as a nap-lover, usually spends part of the afternoon in bed.
The protection of sleep, in a period when awakenings are earlier and when we put our heads on the pillow later than usual, is an aspect that should not be neglected to minimise energy losses.
“It’s something you don’t necessarily think about, but it’s true. For me, it’s really important to have my three meals.” Farsi said.
“But if I break the fast at 8 p.m., personally I can’t eat again at 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. My big supper, I take it around 11 p.m.” he added.
During the first Crew meeting after Ramadan began, head coach Wilfried Nancy took the time to address his players and explain what Farsi and his teammate Steven Moreira were about to go through.
The convertation focused on the open-mindedness that the coaching staff intended to demonstrate towards the two players, but also that which was expected of their companions.