Muslim Arbroath star praises Scottish football support during Ramadan

There was a break in play in the game between Inverness and Arbroath on Tuesday to give Muslim players an opportunity to break their fast.

Muslim Arbroath star Yasin Ben El-Mhanni praises Scottish football support during Ramadan SNS Group

Arbroath star Yasin Ben El-Mhanni has praised the support given to Muslim players during Ramadan.

The 27-year-old former Newcastle United player came off the bench in the 2-0 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Highlands on Tuesday night.

The Championship game was stopped for a fast break to accommodate El-Mhanni and Inverness player Austin Samuels.

Speaking to STV, the Red Lichties winger said: “I think I have dealt with it quite well, I understand that although I am fully focused on football, I need to stick to my beliefs and it’s something I have done since I was young.

“Ramadan is a month where spiritually I think you become a better person, mentally you become a better person, health wise as well and if anything I look at it that it helps you in a positive way on the pitch.

“All credit to the staff and everyone at the club, they have been perfect in terms of handling it and they understand how to deal with it.

“I mean, it’s not completely difficult so they know how to adapt and I’ve just gotten used to it in terms of I am able to play and perform while fasting.

“We have been fortunate recently that games have been kicking off at 7:45, close to the time when I am due to break my fast, so it’s been good.

“At the game last night it was nice to see that they recognised we were fasting and the referee gave us an opportunity to break our fast.

“Unlike Austin Samuels I was lucky in that I was on the bench and had a chance to stuff my face from there but it’s good that everyone is trying to help each other, everyone from different faiths and different backgrounds.

“That’s what it’s all about, everyone embracing each other and being good people.

“Leading up to Ramadan this year I tried fasting on a Thursday and a Monday to help prepare myself for it, just to get used to it and as I’ve done that I found I got used to it but it’s always difficult the first few days when your body is adapting to it.

“But as the month goes on it becomes normal and you don’t really think about it much.

“Yesterday on the coach up everyone was eating around me and stuff but credit to the boys they were asking me if it was ok to eat in front of me and I was saying ‘yeah, no bother, it’s not a problem’.

“It was good to feel that respect but it doesn’t bother me at all because at this stage I don’t really feel the hunger because there is a deeper meaning to it.

“It’s more about trying to understand yourself, sometimes throughout the year you become slack with some things or you fall off the gas a bit and I feel it’s a way to reinstall that discipline inside you, be a better person and know how your attitude with others and how that can affect other people.

“In an all round sense it’s about being a better person by doing things right and living your life correctly, so I think that’s the beauty of it and you learn that when you fast.

“It’s good because when you’re hungry or your thirsty you don’t have too much energy to waste on arguing with someone and you’re restrained on certain things because all you are thinking about is having something to eat.”

El-Mhanni joined the Championship club from London side Harrow Borough in January and he is delighted he made the move north.

He said: “Arbroath is a lovely place and from the chairman of the club to the staff it’s a lovely place to play, everyone is just supportive of us. I know we are in a dogfight at the moment and we are trying to avoid going down but I believe we will be all right.

“It’s a good place to be, it’s a good league, it maybe doesn’t get the credit it deserves but it’s always a fight and it’s not easy.”

Caley Thistle won the game thanks to goals from Nathan Shaw and Scott Allardice to move Billy Dodds’ side up to fifth in the table.

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