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Saad's Ramadan balance

Tom Morris  July 8, 2015 2:41 PM

Ahmed Saad has played 33 games and booted 48 goals for St Kilda.

Ahmed Saad has played 33 games and booted 48 goals for St Kilda.

The club has been really supportive and a lot of the boys have been great.

AHMED Saad is in the midst of something many Australians would struggle to comprehend.

As a devout Muslim, Saad is three weeks into Ramadan – a month of fasting that began on June 18 and will finish next Saturday.

Put simply, Muslims in this time period do not drink or eat between sunrise and sunset, instead focussing their attention on praying five times per day.

“Ramadan is to appreciate what you’ve got and to feel for the poor,” Saad told SAINTS.com.au.

“You try to do as much right as you can because it is our holy month.”

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But what are the practicalities from a football sense of Saad not consuming water or eating during the day?

“I’ve worked out with the club a good program where I can come in early in the morning, do everything I have to do and then leave afterwards,” he said.

“This stops me hanging around for meetings and that sort of thing. I get in and it’s efficient time. I make sure I get everything done and don’t use this as a shortcut or anything like that.

“If anything my body is probably better and I’m probably fitter and leaner… I’m pretty much running on empty after training at the club has been really supportive and the boys have been great. I get asked a lot of questions and everyone respects the fact I can’t eat or drink during the day.”

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But no matter how difficult Saad finds not consuming food or drink during the day, it pales into insignificance compared to what his family is going through.

“What I do is easy compared to my mum and sister in Egypt at the moment,” he said.

“They are doing it in 35 degree heat and don’t eat until about 8.30pm at night. But I guess the difference is that everyone is in the same boat in Egypt, where as I am at the football club and everyone is eating except for me.”

The standard procedure is to eat before bed and then wake up at 4.30am to have a big breakfast before the sun comes up.

Ahmed Saad has enjoyed an excellent run of form for Sandringham.

But Saad, who places a strong emphasis on a good night’s sleep, prefers to have two big meals before bed, go to sleep slightly later, and then wake up at a normal time with a full stomach.

“With me I felt like that was too hard for me to wake up at that time, so I go to bed a little bit later but eat a lot just before I sleep so I still have some energy when I wake up,” he said.

Match days are present a different equation, and while Saad concedes he could ‘probably get through a game’ on an empty stomach, he is not prepared to do so as it would affect the team’s performance.

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Instead, the 25-year-old makes up for his lack of fasting on game days later in the year.

“I don’t fast on match day,” he said.

“It would be almost impossible to perform at my peak if I didn’t eat or drink before a game. I could do it, but I wouldn’t play well and that would be letting the team down and be quite selfish of me.

“I make up for those days either by fasting when Ramadan is over throughout the year, or give money to the poor and charities.”

Since he was a boy Saad has been committed to Ramadan, which begins 10 days earlier every year, and while it is invariably challenging for a professional sportsman, he has trained his body and mind to deal with the temptations.

“People ask ‘how do you last a full day without eating or drinking?’ But to me it’s like asking ‘how do you get fit?’ Well the answer is you train for it,” he said.

“You get used to it. It becomes part of life. It’s something that doesn’t really bother me at all and it’s just part of my life.”

Saad has played 33 senior games, including four this season, since debuting in 2012.