A promising young footballer who is on the books at Birmingham City FC has launched a campaign to better prepare Muslim athletes at all levels for fasting during Ramadan.
Layla Banaras, 15, will be observing her second ever fast this year, and decided to work with a club nutritionist to produce a Ramadan Nutrition Guide and Meal Planner after she found little to no resource available last year. She currently trains four-times-a-week and plays competitive matches throughout her fast, so understanding the best ways to fuel herself for elite level sport is paramount.
Working with sports nutritionist Isobel Cotham, Layla’s guide not only gives examples of food to be consumed, but introduces the science of what, when and why Muslim athletes should be eating and drinking during the religious period. She has also worked with the PFA to produce a meal planner, so those taking part can record their intake and how they feel.
Layla was scouted by Birmingham City aged eight and has worked her way through the ranks to the under 16s team. Since her first fast last year, she has been working hard with the relevant experts to make sure she could help as many young Muslim sportspeople as possible. Her efforts were recognised by The Sunday Times before Christmas, when she was named as Young Inspiration of the Year.
Speaking on her Ramadan Nutrition Guide, Layla said: “Religion and football are both big parts of my life, so when it comes to fasting, I need to be prepared for both. I train and play a lot, so keeping my energy levels up without any professional guidance is hard – that’s why I wanted to create these plans, so that Muslim athletes can carry on performing at their best.
“I don’t see many athletes on TV who look like me, and if the work the club, PFA, nutritionist and myself have done can encourage more Muslims to take part in sport, I’ll feel extremely proud.”
You can download the documents below