Connecting with the community at Bridgestone Arena | Ramadan 2023
Over the past month, you may have noticed that many Premier League and EFL games have included pauses in play to allow Muslim players to break their fast during the holy period of Ramadan. It’s equally important that Muslim players at the grassroots level of the game feel included and supported during this period.
That’s why Bridgestone Arena hosts an annual Ramadan Cup – a football tournament celebrating Ramadan and supporting players who are fasting. The Cup will end with more than 400 people from the local community coming together for Eid prayer.
For many local people, Bridgestone Arena is a place they can call home. The grassroots sports facility in Brent, built with the help of a £1m grant from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation, is run by the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF). JRF was set up by former professional footballer, Jason Roberts, and his uncle , Otis Roberts, to empower local communities and provide opportunities for some of the most marginalised in society to get involved in sport, education and health initiatives.
Jason Roberts, JRF Founder: “Myself and my family decided to start the Jason Roberts Foundation as a way to give something back to the community. The opportunity to have this facility funded by the Football Foundation was a really important part of me having the chance to use sport as a social vehicle for change.”
From American Football and tennis to basketball and boxing, the site offers a wide range of programmes and activities beyond just football so there’s something for everyone. The JRF use sport as a vehicle for social change and to bring communities closer together.
Staff and volunteers at the JRF receive training from the Zesh Rehman Foundation to better understand the considerations that need to be made for those fasting and take on a collaborative approach with the Muslim community who use the facility. The JRF also host webinars and workshops to raise awareness of Ramadan in football across all aspects of the game.
Wilbert Finikin, Coach at JRF: “For me, there is no other community like this where people come together so regularly and get on so well together, it’s like a big family.
“With this facility, we’ve been able to reach a lot of hard-to-reach kids, some of them less fortunate or from deprived homes. This is a place where they’re able to come and take part in football, some for the first time.”