When they say that Ramazan causes a break in sporting activities, they are missing all those sports in which people engage during the holy month. Yes, maybe not under the hot sun during the day but at night — between the time after Taraveeh prayers and ahead of sehri time — the action begins at around 11pm and ends at around 2am.
Night cricket is played in the streets, but there are floodlights illuminating the playgrounds, too, as teams sporting colourful tournament kits face each other. On average, there are some six or seven major Ramazan cricket tournaments going on simultaneously in the big cities. Karachi’s favourite haunts for Ramazan cricket tournaments are the Karachi Gymkhana, the Aga Khan Gymkhana, the Moin Khan Cricket Academy ground, Asghar Ali Shah Stadium in North Nazimbad and the Nazimabad Lawai Stadium in Naya Nazimabad.
Playing there are not your regular neighbourhood teams, but department and corporate teams. The crowd, too, besides friends and family of the players, includes those who may just want to watch a good game or two and enjoy the atmosphere. Other than watching the game they can take part in lucky draws, try out the various snacks —from French fries and popcorn to chaat and shawarma — and the women can kickstart their Eid preparations by buying readymade dresses and kurtis or bangles from the stalls or go for henna application all there on the side lines.
Cricket happens to be the most popular sport in Pakistan and it is a known fact that the shorter format of the game such as Twenty20 or T10 were born out of Ramazan cricket; there is little time before sehri to complete the game. All matches must be over and done within three hours.
Contrary to what many of us think, there is no dearth of sporting activities in the holy month of Ramazan. Eos takes a look at some night-time matches
Meanwhile, the women in Karachi this time, under the umbrella of KheloKricket, were all done with their Ramazan cricket in four days at the Kokan Ground in Karachi’s Bahadurabad. And they played six, six-six over matches every day. The organisers, headed by Hadeel Obaid, also made sure that the prizes given out were according to the mood and season as they had managed to rope in a well-known clothing brand among others to provide the players with extra motivation.
From cricket to the next most popular game: football. This being the FIFA World Cup year, football activity has been going on all across the country. At night, when there is no issue of traffic, players take to the roads. They also kick the ball around under flyovers.
There were Ramazan football tournaments under way in many locales, especially in Lyari, the hub of football in Pakistan. Besides playing, football enthusiasts also found this a good opportunity to discuss the upcoming World Cup in Russia which is to kick off in just a few days.
While some concentrate on boundaries, wickets and the goal, there are many out there bouncing the ball and dodging opponents on basketball courts.
The teams here are usually named after the area they hail from. For instance, at the Ramazan Cup Basketball Tournament at Arambagh, one finds teams such as Karsaz, Kashmir Road, Nishtar Road, etc., competing agaisnt each other.
The night time is no time to head to the beach for a fun game of volleyball, but it’s happening at homes all night long. People lucky enough to own big homes in the DHA area of Karachi put up nets in their lawns to hold volleyball matches.
It is a slightly new trend but is picking up fast. When one family does it, another hears about it and is seen hosting a match the next year in their own lawns. “I am not just playing volleyball, I’m also socialising,” says Gina, one volleyball player, who frequents as many as three volleyball eventa in one night with her husband. “It’s a good sporting activity as well as a chance to see my friends,” she says.
“Besides, since Ramazan is about getting healthy and detoxing, sports can also play a big role in it,” says her husband.
Some sports enthusiasts also like to while away the hours by playing rocball, a mix between volleyball and football played on a rectangular court.
Ramazan tournaments normally take place a few days into the holy month and they end before the beginning of the last 10 days.
There are also indoor sports such as bowling going on in bowling clubs throughout the night where the folks playing and watching also stay till Fajr to enjoy the scrumptious sehri prepared for them.
Among other indoor sports, there is carrom or its variation, dubbo. There is also snooker and foosball happening in many neighbourhoods.
Still, all such Ramazan tournaments normally take place a few days into the holy month and they end before the last 10 days so that they don’t take away the time of extra prayers or extra shopping during the final nights before Eid.g
The writer is a member of staff
She tweets @HasanShazia
Published in Dawn, EOS, June 10th, 2018