Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) fellow readers and blogger extraordinaire,

Alhamdulillah last Friday night the weather was perfect for a youth group activity. Temperatures felt like they were in the low 40s with a slight breeze (direction unknown). Most importantly – there was no precipitation (for the most part). We began Friday evening by praying Isha prayer in congregation at the ISGL. It was really cool to see that our youth helped form almost two rows for prayer on Friday night. May Allah, azza wa jal, support our youth and families in becoming regular attendees of the masjid. Ameen.

After Isha prayer was finished, we broke up into two groups for our weekly youth group discussion. The youngins (roughly ages 8 to 11) chilled in the men’s small prayer hall while the older brothers (ages 12-18) enjoyed quality time in the main prayer hall with Br. Fahad. Friday’s discussion centered around the topic of “Sportsmanship & R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” In the world we live in today, it appears commonplace to see people publicly boast about their accomplishments and skills on and off the sports field. We see chest-pumping, eclectic touchdown dances, and trash-talking. Though these actions are often directed towards the opposition, we see instances where teammates call each other out, subject younger teammates to initiation rituals, insult their coaches/trainers, and show bad body language in the face of obstacles. These incidents are not reserved just to the sports field; they also apply when working on team projects for a class, taking part on a school/club team, and can even be observed between colleagues in the workforce. If we look at the example of Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he would consistently advise his companions to guard their tongues and not use their words or limbs to cause undue harm to others.

To help instill the importance of respecting one’s teammates, opponents and coaches, Friday’s discussion included defining sportsmanship, discussing real-life examples of good and bad sportsmanship, and providing our youth with three tips to help them put the lesson of sportsmanship to good use in their daily life. One example of great sportsmanship which was discussed in our youth lecture was the story of Johntel Franklin and the Dekalb boys basketball team in February 2009. To read the full story, we encourage you to visit the link below:

http://highschool.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=914609

After the 40-minute discussion was finished (alhamdulillah our youth were really engaged in the discussion topic), we discussed the rules of flag football and began the short walk to the Purdue Recreational Sports Center. Flag football is similar in concept to the game of regular football except there is no tackling, blocking, or aggressive physical contact allowed (at least for our game). There are two teams – one team is on offense and other team plays defense. The offense tries to move the football the length of the field (or in our case a regulation-size basketball court) by passing the ball from the quarterback to a receiver. Once a receiver catches the football, the defensive players try to stop the receiver by pulling off a belt which contained colored flags on it. The offense was given 3 chances (or downs) to get from the starting line to half court (which we termed our first down marker). If the offense passed the first down marker, they were given three additional chances to try to put the football in the end zone and score a touchdown (a rectangular space  located at the end of the basketball court). If the offense scored a touchdown, their team earned 7 points. As much as both teams tried, only two touchdowns were scored the entire game. The first touchdown was a beautiful spiral throw to Malik for a 100-foot touchdown. The second touchdown was a nice twisting, turning run by Hamzeh. In the end the two teams tied 7-7; most importantly there were several acts of good sportsmanship displayed throughout the game.

Enough words already; let’s get to the pictures:

As we waited for the flags to make an appearance to the event, a friendly game of basketball began. Sadly nobody invited this basketball to come play. Guys we just talked about sportsmanship!!!

 

Fahad walks steadily towards the youth with the all important flags. In the background we see some unusual poses by our young men. Mujtaba seems pretty excited!

 

My ball! No it is my ball! Boys, boys - come on now, let's play nice here. Hey look it is Assim! Is it just us or do those blue flags not just add a sense of fashion to the shorts and t-shirt look?

 

For some reason Tim Tebow decided to make an appearance all the way from Denver. Meanwhile Mujtaba appears to be admiring Tassawar's giant biceps ma shaa Allah.

 

All eyes glance downwards at the spinning football. Is it laces or spaces? Who will win the all important ball toss?

 

Hey Fahad, please move out of the way; you're blocking an important action shot! Team Yellow huddles up and discusses strategy; Hamza seems to have a secret plan he wants to share with the rest of the group. "Guys I've been working on this plan for a week now; trust me it is not going to fail!"

 

Our elder statesman, Tassawar, with some words of inspiration for Team Blue. "Guys we have one mission and one mission alone for today - WIN! Oh and follow the whole sportsmanship thingy we just talked about too."

 

Fahad searches for an open teammate; look Ahmed is wide open in front of you! Wave Ahmed, Fahad can't see you!

 

Hamzeh comes charging down the field for...a two-foot gain. Way to go defense - nice job swarming to the football! Hey, at least Hamzeh has a smile on his face.

Malik just can't stop crying after scoring one of the games two touchdowns. Once again it appears Mr. Tebow has made yet another appearance at our youth group event. One word - "copycat."

 

Raad and Mujtaba would like to introduce you to their team's awesome quarterback - Omar A.

 

Ali chases Tassawar down the sideline; they are moving so fast the camera can't stay up with them. Two words: "Usain Bolt."

 

Hamzeh chases Ali down in the backfield. Whoops I think Ali may have stepped out of bounds. I think we need to to check instant replay for the last play. Does anyone have the 1-800 number for the instant replay official? We seem to have misplaced his phone number.

"Gotcha" - Omar grabs Hazem's flag as the rest of Team Yellow surrounds the young buck. Swarming defense...they're so fast Hazem got swallowed up in the pile. Meanwhile Shujath reaches out in search of the flag and finds...nothing. Good try brother but I think Omar beat you to the flag.

 

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...a football! Concentrate Amine, concentrate! Remember the ball can't hurt you (well you could jam a few fingers but that is besides the point).

 

Muhammad finds a new use for his flags. We're getting tired just watching him run.

 

Well that is all we have for now. In shaa Allah this Friday evening our young men will get to learn a valuable life skill by preparing a family-style American meal. On Saturday, our mini-men return to action to try their hand at making some yummy cookies. Tune in next week to find out how our youth did in the kitchen.

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