FOOTBALL enthusiasts fasting for Ramadan this month will no longer have to miss out on a kickabout, thanks to weekly midnight football matches organised by a local charity.

The first match kicked off at the Newport Football Centre last weekend, with further sessions planned for every Saturday until Ramadan ends on May 1.

Those who choose to fast during the Muslim religious holiday are unable to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset, making participating in sports during the daylight hours difficult.

"The main aim of the project is to give Muslims in Newport the opportunity to still play football during Ramadan, after they’ve broken their fast,” said Mo Jallow, who is leading the project.

He is the Premier League Kicks Co-ordinator for County in the Community, a local charity affiliated with Newport County AFC which has organised the matches.

The opening session, the first of its kind to take place in Newport, included separate matches for adults and teenagers aged 16-18.

“I think it’s especially important for Muslim kids,” said Mr Jallow. “Obviously it’s not a good idea for them to play much during the daytime, when they are fasting. So now they won’t feel left out, they won’t feel forced to play at school because they know they will be able to play later on.”

“It’s an opportunity to meet new people as well through football - and it gives them a chance to interact with people who can relate to them, because they’re playing with fellow Muslims who are also fasting.”

The midnight Ramadan football sessions are also receiving funding through the Premier League Kicks scheme, a programme that uses football to help youngsters in high-need areas.

Originally, County in the Community had planned to begin the midnight matches last year. But a surge in Covid cases and the subsequent introduction of restrictions meant that it had to be delayed.

Now, its success has raised hopes that it could be expanded in the future, with more participants and multiple sessions per week.

“Hopefully we can grow the numbers more and more, and reach out to more people,” said Mr Jallow. “This year was more like a pilot project- we want to make it a regular thing that we do every year.”