Telling Stories: Sports
Issue 100 January 2013
Our focus on sports has allowed us to cover some of the world’s greatest sporting heroes. Footballers such as Freddie Kanoute and Nicolas Anelka have reached the zenith of football championship glory, yet we do not hear much of their faith life.
Our focus on sports has allowed us to cover some of the world’s greatest sporting heroes. Footballers such as Freddie Kanoute and Nicolas Anelka have reached the zenith of football championship glory, yet we do not hear much of their faith life. Kanoute’s charity work; his refusal to wear a Sevilla shirt bearing the name of club sponsor—gambling website, 888.com; and his campaigning for Palestine; have earned him a place within the hearts of the Muslim community, as well as an emel front cover slot. Mo Farah achieved what no other Briton had done before him—double Olympic gold in the 5000m and 10000m. We covered Farah before he had reached the attention of the general public, then interviewed him a year later, when he was our front cover for the Olympics 2012. His endurance is singular in the sporting champions that we have covered. His single-minded focus and dedication, and the realisation that to excel to the level meant that ordinary life was not possible, is an exemplar to all. The sacrifices that he made in order to achieve his Olympic record obviously humbled him, evidenced by his prostration at the end of his Olympic races, and stands as testament to the faith which he draws on to gain his discipline, motivation and focus. Other features have focused on less public, or upcoming sports people. Wing Chun master Gary McKenzie is renowned within his field but not outside. Our front cover feature propelled him into the spotlight and was taken up by others. American fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, is the first hijabi Muslim woman to train with the American Olympic team, narrowly missing a place at the London 2012 Olympics. Her sporting prowess and determination has earned her the right to succeed on her own terms.
By talking to the sportsmen and women about their training schedules, discipline, and what it takes to be a champion, they speak about how the values of Islam, and the pursuit of excellence and discipline, are essential to success. They draw on their faith to achieve these things.
The interviews with these leading sports personalities give insights as to how they’ve managed to work through Ramadan, and the impact that has on their sporting schedules. How they manage to balance training, and playing, with the requirements of their faith.