Ramadan: Everton Women midfielder Kenza Dali talks about fasting as a professional footballer | Football News

Everton Women midfielder Kenza Dali has spoken about her experiences growing up during Ramadan and explains that fasting is only a small part of the holy month.

Dali joined Everton Women in 2021 from West Ham and the 30-year-old is one of many Muslims in elite football who are playing and fasting during Ramadan. She spoke about her personal experiences of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

“It’s not only like fasting, it’s not about food, it’s not about drink. It’s so much more than that,” she told Sky Sports News.

“Basically, you’re not drinking, you’re not eating. But it’s just like two per cent of Ramadan. The other per cent is all about connecting with yourself, with your faith, with others, with your community”.

Ramadan is coming to an end and is expected to last until Sunday May 1. During this period Muslims are expected to fast between Sunrise to Sunset for roughly a month. The holy month involves regular daily prayers, acts of charity and self-reflection.

When asked what Ramadan was like growing up in France, Dali said: “I used to always try to do my Ramadan with my grandma. She’s living really close to my parents, but I basically spend a lot of time with her because she can teach me a lot of things. She can’t read so I was the one to read the Quran for her”.

“This was my Ramadan being around my family and going to the mosque with my family. Breaking my fast with my family”.

The France international also went on to mention some of the challenges this season. She said: “Last season I got Hawa Cissoko that was with me and we weren’t alone. So, it helped you to be honest. It helped with football because she’s the one to train with me and stuff.”

“You’re not alone. You can share sometimes the difficulty of feelings and stuff.”

Everton's Kenza Dali (left) and Reading's Gemma Evans battle for the ball during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at Walton Hall Park, Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday February 6, 2022.
Dali has praised the inclusiveness of Everton

Kenza signed a two-year deal at Everton when she joined in the summer of 2021 from West Ham. Before that, she spent 10 years playing senior football for five different clubs in France.

She also praised the open and inclusive nature of her club Everton.

“Like one month ago before Ramadan started, the coach Chris Roberts came to me and was like, ‘so tell me how you’re doing? How you organise? What do you need from me? He asks me all the time these questions”.

“Ramadan, I think is a choice that you can’t [let it] affect your team, so you need to perform the same way because this is your choice”.

Dali also talks about some of the more light-hearted questions she gets asked during this month.

“They ask me a lot of questions. I’m always laughing because it’s like ‘not even water?’ This is the question I get every Ramadan. It’s like, ‘Oh, not even water?’ ‘Yeah, not even water’.”

Everton's Kenza Dali (left) and Aston Villa's Ruesha Littlejohn battle for the ball during the Barclays FA Women's Super League at the Banks's Stadium, Walsall. Picture date: Wednesday March 2, 2022.
Dali has played 19 games in the WSL this season for Everton

Last season’s Monday Night Football fixture between Leicester and Crystal Palace saw the game paused for Wesley Fofana to break his fast. It was believed to be the first time in Premier League history that a game has been paused to allow Muslim players to eat and drink mid-game, once the sun sets.

When asked about the importance of this moment, Kenza said: “It was a really good picture of inclusion and that we can still all live together. I really appreciate that because it’s just a good picture, sometimes we need that.”

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid Ul Fitr, this involves spending time with loved ones and friends, exchanging gifts and feasting.

The former PSG player said: “When I was a kid, it was the day when you put on your new clothes and you are so happy because you get presents, you just wait for this day”.

“Some people say Eid is like your Christmas. And I’m like, basically, yeah, it’s an important day for us, we just celebrate with loved ones.”

“It’s a celebration, it’s spending good times with your loved ones, your family, your friends. And yeah, eating a lot, that’s in my memories that we ate a lot.”

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