Rugby League


23 Mar 2023

Iliess Macani | Ramadan in Rugby League

Iliess Macani | Ramadan in Rugby League

London Broncos’ Iliess Macani spoke with Nujum Sports magazine recently about the month of Ramadan and his approach to balancing fasting and Rugby League.

You can read the full article below.

I was born and raised in Tottenham, North London and raised a Muslim, so Islam has always been a very important part of my life. From a very young age I remember my parents teaching me the five pillars of Islam and encouraging myself and my siblings to pray and recite verses of the Quran. But what always stood out for me was the month of Ramadan. I always remembered it being such a joyous time because the family was always together and who didn’t love Eid as a kid?

The holy month of Ramadan is an amazing period that means so much to Muslims all over the world and having played Rugby League professionally for over 10 years I’ve tried many different approaches throughout this time. Unfortunately, I’ve got my method wrong on so many occasions and I have really struggled, but Alhamdulillah I’ve learnt valuable lessons from those times, and I’ve found an approach that works for me.

At London Broncos we train three times a week and then play a game on the weekend, so we usually split training into different compartments. First is the gym, which would mostly consist of compound strength and power exercises as well as Olympic lifts. Then we have on the field training, which is a mixture of wrestling and contact work to manage tackles as well as skill-based exercises with the ball and working our plays.

Over the years, I’ve found that one of the biggest and most important parts of fasting whilst playing and training is hydration. My number one priority when I break my fast is hydration – we lose so much water and it’s something I have found has been most effective for me when breaking fast. I always aim to try and drink about three litres of water over the course of the night. However, the aim isn’t just to drink as much as possible as quickly as possible, I’ve found drinking about a pint every couple of hours useful. 

I focus on having a high protein and high fat diet when breaking my fast through the week. Your body needs the protein to replenish your muscles that have been working tirelessly to get you through training and the fats give you long lasting energy levels through the day and helps improve the absorption of vitamins that you consume. I also strongly recommend taking Essential Amino Acids to help top up any extra proteins you may not be able to consume with your meals and they also enable your body to recover quickly and perform at its best. 

The months when we break our fast at 7pm, I’ve always tried to fit in two meals before fast begins again. I start with dates and a warm soup to open up my stomach and this is then probably followed with grilled chicken, hummus, and a salad. When I wake up before Fajr, I eat dates and would usually have steak, eggs, and some avocado.

The day before a game on the Sunday I would carb load and usually go for a big bowl of pasta, I’m a massive fan of Italian cuisine so it’s the perfect time for me to indulge in some of my favourite dishes. I would also hydrate a little differently, to get the right electrolytes into my system I mix every pint of water with a bottle of Lucozade Sport. But this can be done with any sports drink really. Then, the Sunday after my game would be my cheat day and I will have whatever I wanted or craved in the week.

To conclude my top tips would be:

  • Make sure you hydrate!
  • Listen to your body and try not to overeat because you saw a lovely burger earlier in the day
  • Trust in Allah, you are stronger than you think and by the power of Allah you will manage to keep your fasts through the entire month Inshallah