Al Faruq Aminu Traded to the New Orleans Hornets

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

al-farouq-aminu-nba-2_1152x864Former Wake Forest University forward Al-Farouq Aminu was one of three players traded to the New Orleans Hornets last week by the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for superstar point guard Chris Paul, who ironically is also a former Wake Forest Deamon Deacon. Aminu is in his second year in the league, and Coach Monty Williams feels that he still has much to work on. “We feel like he’s a guy that’s going to be in a fight with Quincy (Pondexter) for minutes,” Williams told the New Orleans Times Picayune. “We don’t give up anything around here. He has a skill set, but we don’t want guys to be in position by default.”

While shooting guard Eric Gordon, who averaged 22.9 points last season for the Clippers, was the centerpiece in the deal for the Hornets, Aminu exhibited enough potential to be a top ten pick in the 2010 NBA draft. “He has the skills and abilities that I think most small forwards would pay for,” Williams said. “He’s long and can rebound. When you’re 6 feet 9 and can do that, you are a prototype small forward.” Veteran center Chris Kaman was the third component of the trade for New Orleans.

The 21-year-old Aminu is expected to come off the bench for now, but that could very well be a temporary arrangement. “I’m trying to get better and learn the mentality down here, which is always to go hard, and that’s great,” Aminu told the Times Picayune. “The intensity in practice here is a little different with guys focused throughout the session, and it’s time for me to start myself out to where the level is. All the coaches here are pushing me to be a better player. They just want to get the best out of all their players.”

Being traded, especially as a very young player, can often be traumatic. But the silver lining would be that Aminu is returning to the part of the country in which he grew up, having been reared in Atlanta, Georgia before moving on to the state of North Carolina to attend Wake Forest. The Hornets open their regular season schedule on December 26th against the Phoenix Suns.

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Shiraz Rehman Hired by Chicago Cubs

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

pic_735021_Chicago_Cubs2Shiraz Rehman of Phoenix, Arizona was hired this week as the assistant to the general manager for Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs. He left his position as director of baseball operations with the Arizona Diamondbacks to take the Cubs job. He had been in that position for three seasons, and spent six seasons overall with the Diamondbacks.

Rehman joined Arizona in December 2005 as a Baseball Operations Assistant and served for two years as the Manager, Baseball Operations after his promotion in January 2007. Rehman assisted General Manager Josh Byrnes and Assistant General Manager Peter Woodfork in all phases of managing the baseball operations department. He was hired there by former GM Josh Byrnes, who also served under Epstein in Boston.

In Arizona, Rehman’s primary responsibilities were with the Major League team, assisting in the maintenance of the club’s 40-man roster, providing financial and statistical analysis to support trade and player evaluation, and overseeing all transactions and Major League rules interpretation and compliance. He played a key role in the arbitration process, contract structuring and negotiations, and oversaw baseball analysis efforts for the team. Rehman also spearheaded the D-backs’ development of Baseball Operations technology and video solutions, and coordinated the department’s internship program. In addition, he managed much of the financial planning and budgeting processes for all of baseball operations.

In a news release, the Cubs described Rehman’s job will be to “support the general manager on potential player acquisitions” and also “develop the club’s evaluation database and coordinate the department’s technological efforts.” Rehman will crunch numbers as general manager Jed Hoyer prepares to sign free agents and make trades this offseason, which officially started Monday with the General Manager meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Originally an intern under new Cubs president of baseball Theo Epstein in Boston in 2005, Rehman is a 1999 graduate of McGill University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting and was a starting infielder on the baseball team for four years, captaining the squad in his junior and senior seasons. He spent time as both a commodities trader and financial consultant for more than five years at Enron and Deloitte & Touche before obtaining his M.B.A from Columbia Business School in 2006.

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Edin Dzeko Named English Footballer of the Month

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

9685373_95ior3Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has been rewarded for his sparkling start to the new football season by being named Barclays English Premier League Player of the Month for August. The 25-year-old Muslim from Bosnia and Herzegovina has scored six goals in City’s opening three matches, including goals against Tottenham in a 5-1 win on the road last weekend.

Dzeko started slowly with Manchester City after his £27million move from Wolfsburg in January. He arrived at Man City with a reputation as a prolific goalscorer, with 85 goals in 138 appearances for former German champions Wolfsburg. But it took him three months to score his first Premier League goal, and he finished the season with only six goals in 21 appearances, a goal total that he has already equaled in the new season in only three appearances.

In an interview with The Mirror this past summer, Dzeko admitted that he arrived at City in a troubled state of mind, his head scrambled by the protracted nature of his move. He also admitted to struggling initially to adapt to the pace and physical nature of the Premier League. “I was sick of all the talk about the transfer,” said Dzeko. “It had got to my head a little bit [by the time he arrived at City]. But still I think I had some good games and scored some important goals. I was new in the team and it was a hard season. It’s always difficult to come to a new club midway through a hard season like that. But I know what I have done in the last six months. Now it’s my second season and I want to do better. Manchester City didn’t pay money for me because they saw me once on YouTube or something like that. They saw me scoring good goals. I haven’t forgotten how to score goals and I will show that next season. Every player needs time to settle in and get used to things; from the league to other players – everything. But I’ve had a full pre-season with the team now, which I think is the most important thing for any player, and I’m working hard. We’ll see what happens. But I know this season will be much better.”

“The Premier League is different,” said Dzeko. “The players are much stronger and much faster. After a few games when I first came, I realised the referees don’t whistle for many things. It’s not like that in Germany – with every small contact there’s a foul. In England it’s different and you’ve got to get used to all those things. It’s now behind me.”

Now Dzeko looks to have constant competition for playing time on a high-profile team such as Manchester City, with this summer’s arrival of Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero, and the recent addition of fellow Muslim Samir Nasri. But Dzeko seems undaunted by the competition.

“There’s always competition in football,” said Dzeko.”I don’t think about that, though. I know what I can do. I do my best in training and I think I train very well…The manager is telling me all the time ‘I believe in you’ and ‘just work hard’, which is what I’m doing.”

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Samir Nasri Goes to Manchester City

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

258589-samir-nasri-est-selectionne-par-fullscreen-1
 

The Sheikh of Abu Dhabi has been trying to secure this deal all summer, and he finally got his man. Manchester City football club of the English Premier League have finally secured the services of French Muslim footballer Samir Nasri from his former club, fellow English League rivals Arsenal.

The Abu Dhabi-owned football club reportedly obtained Nasri for a transfer fee of £24million. The 24-year-old midfielder subsequently signed a four year contract with Manchester City. This would be the fourth major signing this summer for City, but it would only be the second most expensive, after the club record £38million purchase of Sergio Aguero. Nasri will likely make his Man City debut this Sunday against Tottenham.

Nasri had just one year remaining on his contract at Arsenal, whom he joined in 2008, and the London club have agreed to sell now rather than risk losing him on a free transfer next summer. English Premier League rivals Manchester United had also shown interested in the Frenchman. And in recent weeks, there was growing tension at Arsenal with the common knowledge that Nasri wanted out. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger even included Nasri in the starting lineup this past weekend against Liverpool even after it was apparent that the club was close to a sale. He was, however, left off of the roster for Arsenal’s midweek Champions League qualifying match against Udinese.

This was a rough week for Arsenal, who were forced to sell captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona the week before, followed by a home loss to Liverpool. Now they have been strong-armed into parting with another of their young talents.

Nasri came up in the Marseille youth system and made his debut for the French club at the age of 17. He came to Arsenal in 2008 for £15.8million. But he struggled for a couple of years, and was even left off of the 2010 French World Cup team. But he finally broke through last year with 15 goals and a nomination for Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.

Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini told www.mcfc.co.uk: “He’s a fantastic player because he has technique, he has mentality. I knew him when he played for Marseille. I followed him when I was at Inter and we wanted to take him five years ago. But I think in the last few years in the Premier League he’s improved a lot. Now I think he’s a top player.”

Nasri now joins a Muslim-laden squad in Manchester City. The Ivorian brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure are there, as well as fellow Ivorian Abdul Razak, and Somalian midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim, not to mention the Emirati ownership.

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Deji Karim Has Sights Set on New NFL Season

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

sf3Jacksonville Jaguars second-year running back Abdul Deji Karim has been sporting sunglasses in practice lately, but it is not an attempt by the humble football player to big-time anybody. He actually has a medical excuse. Karim told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union that he underwent cataract surgery on his eye during the offseason, and as a result he is currently suffering from light-sensitivity.

As a policy the National Football League does not allow tinted visors, but they do grant exceptions for players with medical problems. One example of such a player is running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the New York Jets. Karim is currently seeking permission from the league office to wear such a visor during games.

Karim was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Jaguars. Las season he primarily handled kickoff duties, which would be difficult to perform with light-sensitivity due to having to look up into the sun in order to field the kickoffs. Jacksonville takes on the Atlanta Falcons this weekend in preseason football action. They open up the regular season on September 11th at home against division rivals the Tennessee Titans.

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The New Drogba Joins Tottenham

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

drogba_portraitDespite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summer’s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last year’s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote D’Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed “The New Didier Drogba”, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire team’s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best player.

Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.

“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. “My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.

Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogba’s clear physical advantage. “Drogba is taller than me, he’s more physically built than me and he’s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him I’d be so happy,” Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.

The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.

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Soony Saad Joins Major League Soccer

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Michael Nanchoff #9 of the University of Akron sends the ball past Soony Saad #8 of the University of Michigan during the 2010 College Cup semi-final at Harder Stadium, on December 10 2010, in Santa Barbara, California.Akron won 2-1.

A University of Akron player sends a ball past Soony Saad of the University of Michigan at the 2010 College Cup Semifinal in Santa Barbara, California, on December 10, 2010.

Muslim soccer player Soony Saad has now gone from Michigan high school star, to college soccer sensation, to now professional soccer player all in a matter of a year and a half. Saad enjoyed a prolific freshman season with the University of Michigan men’s soccer team, scoring 19 goals and leading his team to the Final Four. But afterward, the lure of professional soccer proved too great. He left the team this spring after the season concluded and traveled to Europe to try out for a number of large European soccer organizations. But after failing find the right opportunities, Saad has returned home to the United States and has committed to Major League Soccer (MLS). And this week, in a weighted lottery, Sporting Kansas City of MLS has now won the rights to the Lebanese-American forward.

Sporting Kansas City already has what American soccer expert Ives Galarcep describes as “…one of the deepest and strongest collection of forwards in MLS…” But any team could use the natural scoring talents of Soony Saad. Last season Soony teamed up with his brother, midfielder Hamoody Saad, to lead the University of Michigan attack that brought home the Big Ten Conference Title. Before that, as a high school senior in the Detroit area, Saad was named the Gatorade National High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Sporting Kansas City beat out Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire to win Saad’s rights. Now they are hoping that Saad can bring their team trophies as well.

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Turk Is Best Center in 2011 NBA Draft

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

photo dayTurkish basketball player Enes Kanter was one of a dozen players who met the media in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday to discuss the 2011 NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday June 23rd. Kanter told the throng of reportes that he expected to go in the first three picks Thursday night, which are held by Cleveland, Minnesota and Utah in that order. While Cleveland is almost a lock to take Duke point guard Kyrie Lewis with the first pick, Kanter’s name will be in play almost immediately after that. While Minnesota has not shown much interest in the Turkish center, a number of teams have been rumored to be angling to trade into the second or third position to nab him. Utah at the third position is reportedly leaning toward Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight, but they also have Kanter in the back of their minds, as do the Cleveland Cavaliers who pick again at number four.

Kanter, who just turned nineteen years old on May 20th, was recruited to play basketball for the University of Kentucky. However, the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible for inter-collegiate athletics because he received approximately $33,000 from the Turkish professional team Fenerbahçe Ülker. The NCAA ruled that this amount was above and beyond what was considered acceptable. On January 7, 2011, the NCAA rejected Kentucky’s appeal, rendering Kanter permanently ineligible. As a result, he declared for the 2011 NBA Draft. His amateur accomplishments include being named the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds while leading Turkey’s junior national team to the bronze medal.

Kanter, whose father Mehmet is a professor at Trakya University in Turkey, told the reporters that if would have been cleared by the NCAA to play college basketball last season that not only would the University of Kentucky have won the national title, but that he would clearly be the number one pick in this draft.”Because I believe I am the best player in this draft,” Kanter remarked. Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal asked Kanter if he believed he would have dominated in college basketball last season? “Yes,” he said, shaking his head. “We would have won the national title.” “Easily?” replied Bozich. “Yes,” retorted Kanter. Hopefully that confidence is borne out in Thursday’s draft.

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Houston Baller Commits to Duke

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

17USulaimon1AAU201020Houston, Texas boys’ high school basketball player Rashad Sulaimon has committed to Duke University, a school known both for its top-tier men’s basketball and for its top-notch academics. Sulaimon is a shooting guard, and is rated by Rivals.com as the 24th best player in the nation in the class of 2012. The 6 foot 4 inch Sulaimon plays for Strake Jesuit high school.

ESPN.com offers the following scouting report on Sulaimon: Sulaimon is a high energy shooting guard the can score in a variety of ways. He can get to the rim in transition or stop and knock down a pull up jumper. He has three point range and although he is streaky the defense must respect the fact that he can go on roll and knock down two or three in a row. From the wing Sulaimon probes the defense looking for an opening to attack to score or draw and kick to an open teammate. Sulaimon has a great first step and uses a quick catch and go move as well. If the player defending him does not match his energy level Sulaimon will have a big game. This young guard is versatile enough to help at the point because he is a smart player that can handle and pass the ball. Sulaimon is capable of defending both guard positions and could develop into a lock down defender in the future because of his size attacking style of play. Sulaimon is a capable defender but tends to loose focus at times which gets him out of position or he will gamble and pick up a cheap foul. He also has the ability to be more of a factor on the glass on both ends of the floor because of his consistent energy and effort. Sulaimon can make threes but must work for consistency. He can be streaky bad or good. From time to time Sulaimon will rush or get into a hurry which may result in a turnover. Sulaimon is a long and very skilled wing. He has tremendous upside with his skills, athleticism and great energy and effort that he plays with on a consistent basis. He is a natural wing guard that can get on a roll from behind the arc or off the bounce. Sulaimon has all the tools to be a special college player.

Sulaimon also had college offers from other big schools, including Baylor, Indiana, Georgetown, and Georgia Tech. He also had an offer to play for President Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University. However, in the end, Rasheed chose to play for one of the most revered men’s basketball coaches of all time, Mike Kryzewski.

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US Football Player Targeted for Criticizing Celebration of Killing

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jerry White

Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the news media and virtually every avenue of American popular culture was activated to manufacture an atmosphere of jingoism and celebration over the dirty killing of the Al Qaeda leader.

As has so often been the case, in particular since September 11, 2001, professional sports has been used to create a false aura of “national unity” and intimidate anyone critical of the criminal actions of the US government.

The backward chants of “USA! USA!” by a section of the crowd at the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the New York Mets baseball game Sunday night—following the announcement of the bin Laden killing—was followed by a week of sporting events where soldiers threw out the ceremonial first pitches and the routine singing of the national anthem at the National Basketball playoffs became the occasion for even more crude displays of flag-waving patriotism and militarism.

Sportscasters from the ESPN cable network were immediately dispatched to solicit pro-government comments from prominent athletes in an effort to demonstrate the supposed unanimity of public opinion. In an interview with Minnesota Vikings football coach Mike Priefer, a former Navy helicopter pilot, ESPN commentator Jay Crawford urged the coach that defensive players who tackle ball carriers on kickoff returns were a “well-trained team, working in precision,” just like the Navy Seal assassination squad.

Whether they shared the right-wing political conceptions or were naïve and taken in by the propaganda blitz, several prominent athletes issued statements praising the military and President Obama. There were, however, notable and, in the present circumstances, courageous exceptions. Since sports cable channels and news media would not broadcast such statements, the athletes making criticisms used their Twitter accounts.

The day after Obama’s announcement of the killing, Rashard Mendenhall, the 23-year-old star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, tweeted: “What kind of man celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Mendenhall’s comments—which were bound up with his religious convictions and skepticism in the government’s version of the 9/11 events—were immediately seized upon for a rabid campaign accusing the football player of being disloyal and contemptuous of the 3,000 Americans killed by the terrorist attacks. The fraternity of cable television sportscasters—who, with few exceptions, generally appeal only to the base instincts of sports fans—demanded that the National Football League block athletes from having access to Twitter and social networking sites.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement regarding Mendenhall, saying it “is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments.” He added, “The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done.”

In the face of the torrent of criticism, Mendenhall issued a clarification on his blog, which, while expressing religious conceptions and some conciliation to pro-war propaganda, nevertheless upheld his initial comments and the right to the express them.

“This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don’t believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics. I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.”

On Friday, sports apparel maker Champion fired Mendenhall, who recently signed a four-year contract and had been a sponsor with the company since his NFL career started in 2008. While hypocritically claiming to respect his right to express such views, the company said, “We no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship.”

The statement added, “Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the US Armed Forces” and said Mendenhall’s comments and opinions “were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand.”

Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere, other athletes also spoke out. Milwaukee Bucks basketball player Chris Douglas-Roberts tweeted after hearing of Bin Laden’s death, “Is this a celebration??”

Responding to several hostile tweets he went on to express his anti-war position in the regards to the killing of bin Laden.

“It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy.

“It took 10 years & 2 Wars to kill that…guy.

“It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 to kill hat guy. But we’re winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).”

With more negative reaction being tweeted at Douglas-Roberts, he went on to clarify his position.

“What I’m sayin’ has nothing to do with 9/11 or that guy (Bin Laden). I still feel bad for the 9/11 families but I feel EQUALLY bad for the war families. …

“People are telling me to get out of America now b/c I’m against MORE INNOCENT people dying every day? B/c I’m against a 10-year WAR?

“Whatever happened to our freedom of speech? That’s the problem. We don’t want to hear anything that isn’t our perspective.”

The effort to stampede public opinion, of course, has an effect. But the overwhelming sentiment of the population is one of suspicion towards the government and its official explanations and a concern over the erosion of deeply felt democratic rights in the name of the “war on terrorism.”

The American population—including athletes—have had ample experience with the lies of the US government and their exploitation of 9/11. Eight months after the terrorist attacks, Arizona Cardinal football player Patrick Tillman left a lucrative career to join the military. His death in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, was used by the Bush administration and Pentagon to promote support for the war, even as they concealed the fact from the American public and his family that he had been killed by friendly fire from US troops.

In 2007 testimony before a US congressional hearing, Tillman’s brother Kevin Tillman testified: “The deception surrounding this case was an insult to the family: but more importantly, its primary purpose was to deceive a whole nation. We say these things with disappointment and sadness for our country. Once again, we have been used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise.”

While the military presented Tillman as a pro-war sports icon, his family and friends later made public that the young man developed anti-war and left-wing views while in the military and was preparing to write an anti-war book when he returned from Afghanistan.

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Bacary Sagna Donates World Cup Bonuses

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Bacary-Sagna-1Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has declared his intention to donate his €100,000 bonus earned from the disappointing French 2010 World Cup campaign to football clubs in France and Senegal – his ancestral homeland, according to the newspaper France Football.

The 28-year-old former Auxerre player has earmarked two teams from Yonne (a French department) – Saint-Florentin and Franco-Maghrébins de Sens; and another from Paris – Bernard Diomède Academy, to receive part of the donation. The remainder will be offered to two Senegalese clubs to be named later, the French paper said.

France had a horrendous tournament in South Africa and crashed out in the group stages amid player revolt against coach Raymond Domenech, and public feuds. Sagna was born in Bourgogne, France to Senegalese parents. He began his international career with the French Under-21 team in 2004, before making it to the senior team three years later.

A source at the Senegal Football Federation told the website Goal.com that the gesture will encourage other foreign players of African descent to “look back to where they hail from and give a helping hand to those in need.”

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Muhammad Wilkerson Waits for His Name to Be Called

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

ScreenShot140With the NFL Draft this Thursday, there is talk that Temple University defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson could be selected in the mid-to-late first round. That means that likely by the end of Thursday we should know his new NFL Team. Marc Londo of the Philadelphia Examiner wrote up an NFL Draft Prospect report on Wilkerson, and stated, “He plays with high motor and has very good balance for a big man, with an impressive ability to quickly change direction. His superior strength, power and athleticism at the point of attack makes him a force to be reckoned with.”

At 6-4 and 315 pounds with 35 ¼ inch arms, Wilkerson has great size. He ran a 4.96 forty at the Combine and has shown the ability to play inside in a 4-3, or defensive end in a 3-4 system. Wilkerson has been know for his athleticism since coming out of Linden High School in New Jersey, where he was known for his skills on the the basketball court.  Scouts, Inc. had him rated as the 173rd-best power forward in the country. After a year of prep school at Hargrave Military Academy , the 6-4, 315 pound joined Temple as a three-star defensive lineman, where he ended up being the best defensive player Temple fans have seen in decades. This was shown by his accomplishments where he was named to the 2010 All-MAC first team honoree. In 2010, Wilkerson finisished with 70 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last year, this includes the game against Kent State , where he dominated the line with 6 tackles and 3 sacks for a loss of 21 yards, earning him the MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. His final stats for his three year Temple career, 144 tackles, 17.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.   His versatility as an athlete is precisely why he should fare well at the next level. He’s able to handle the double team very well and can get into the backfield. Beyond that, he has made the plays when Temple has needed them. As an early entry into the draft, he still has rough areas in his game that need to be worked out. However, that could also be considered part of his upside. He’s been very effective with a relatively limited skill-set. With further instruction from NFL coaches, he can be a difference maker for any franchise that drafts him. Since becoming an Owl, Wilkerson has worked hard to become a leader among his teammates. He is diligent and expects the same of those around him. His lead-by-example work ethic has been instrumental in the growth of the Temple football program. It is his maturity that I feel gives him an edge on many other defensive line prospects in the top portion of the draft.  Good luck to Wilkerson on Thursday.  SU will tweet as soon as he is drafted.

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The Top Female Muslim Tennis Player

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Aravane Rezai of France during her match against Petra Martic of Croatia during the Miami WTA Open Tennis.
Picture Stuart Morton

The search for the top Muslima in the tennis world takes us to two countries: Iran and France. Arsalan and Nouchine Rezai emigrated from Iran to France. Arsalan, being an auto mechanic, was in search of a better life for his family. In 1987, Nouchine, a physical therapist, gave birth to daughter Aravane. And, a tennis star was born.

She began playing tennis at the age of eight. Now, in 2010, she is the top women’s tennis player in all of France, and the 18th-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. And to think, she started out in the game as her older brother’s ball girl. And if she hadn’t become a professional tennis player she had designs on becoming a physicist. Her brother, Anauch, has gone on to become a successful tennis coach. While Aravane has gone on to record victories over such tennis stars as Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, and Venus Williams.

Aravane maintains close relations with her family. She is coached by her father, while her mother travels with her in the role of physical therapist. A baseline player and hardcourt specialist, Aravane first saw international success by winning gold medals while representing Iran in the Women’s Islamic Games in 2001 and 2005. She has since gone on to win four Women’s Tennis Association tournament titles thus far in her career. In grand slam play, her best finishes so far have been a fourth round finish at the 2006 U.S. Open and a fourth round finish at the 2009 French Open. Her highest WTA world ranking thus far was number 15, achieved just last month. So, clearly her star is on the rise.

On the personal side, Aravane is fluent in three languages: French, Persian, and English. Her cultural interests range from Bollywood films to Persian poetry and Persian music. And she remains down to earth enough to enjoy a good kebab. While she still intends to pursue the field of physics after she is done with tennis, her immediate goal remains to emulate her favorite players, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, by achieving the number one ranking in the world. She will be in action this week in Bali, as the number two seed in the $600,000 Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions.

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Sania Mirza Wins Another Doubles Title

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

10It appears that there may be a new Muslim doubles tennis star from the Indian subcontinent, to join Pakistan’s men’s doubles ace Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. That would be Indian female tennis player Sania Mirza, who has now won two doubles tournament titles in three weeks with new partner Elena Vesnina from Russia. The pair most recently won the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. And most impressively, they won the tournament as an unseeded team. In the finals, Mirza and Vesnina ousted Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy 6-4, 6-4 to win the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) event. Along the way, Mirza and Vesnina also took out another high-powered American team, the second-seeded team Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber. 6-3, 6-4 was the score for that match.

It wasn’t a bad singles tournament for Sania either. She fought her way through the qualifying tournament to make it into the main draw. Then, again as an unseeded player, she went all the way to the quarterfinals before succumbing to 11th-seeded Chinese woman Peng Shuai 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. But Mirza was able to exact revenge against Shuai by beating her in the doubles quarterfinals. For her efforts Mirza saw her world singles ranking jump from 90 to 73 after the tournament’s results were in.

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