By Anees Teladia
The pupils of Westerford High School have displayed an exemplary spirit of respect for religion during the month of Ramadan this year. Several rugby teams of the school decided not to drink any water on practice and match days, in a show of respect to fellow fasting Muslim players.
“It was a unanimous decision by Westerford High, so all [rugby] teams were kind of fasting. It wasn’t just the under 14 rugby team,” said rugby coach, Adiel Gallie.
“We just wanted to highlight them because they’re 13 and 14 years old. When the message came across, asking what they wanted to do as a team, they immediately said ‘We won’t drink water’.”
Gallie says that the training and match day standard hasn’t dropped, despite the decreased water and nutritional intake of the athletes.
“We try to make the training as manageable as possible [during Ramadan] but we don’t drop the standards. When we see their energy levels and attitudes drop, we settle the team down and take a few breaks.”
“It was quite significant for the boys because I’ve actually seen their level raise in their playing.”
“I think they have way too much energy for us. In my days, I would never have played rugby in Ramadan at all. It was astounding what these boys do…There weren’t requests for anything during practices. The guys would be told they could have a water break and they’d say no – they would just stand around, waiting,” said Gallie.
The team spirit shown by the Westerford rugby teams is said to reflect what the school strives toward and is achieving.
“Over the last two years the rugby [at Westerford] has grown, as well as the culture of integrating different religions and religious denominations. It just shows what the school is becoming, in the sense of tolerance and integration,” said Gallie
“I’m highly impressed with the integration of children in the school. You can see the friendships and the love they have for one another…We are grateful for their sacrifices.”
With negative news around schools and the education system dominating media, it is refreshing to see and hear of schools taking steps in the right direction.
“I think this display has been an eye-opener. We so many schools going through degradation and the degradation of communities and societies…[so] when we see something small like this, there’s a bit of hope we can share with people.”
Gallie says that the team unity shown by the rugby teams was a collective school decision and that the staff are proud of the learners.
“The principal, from my viewpoint, was impressed with what these boys are becoming,” said Gallie.
“[However] I don’t want this to be seen from an egotistical point, in essence that it was the under 14’s of Westerford. It was a collective school that decided to sacrifice.”
“Our future, as a community, is looking bright. I pray we can carry through what we’re trying to do as individuals in this world.”
Assistant Coach, Saaid Blake added that he, too, is astounded by the team spirit shown and that he is optimistic about all the rugby teams’ future development.
“I was quite amazed with these boys. I’ve never experienced something like this before as long as I’ve been coaching,” said Blake.
“We can only get stronger.”