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UNC Muslim Student Association prepares for MLK-weekend sports tournament

unc msa sportsfest
A flag football team hosts the trophy after a day-long competition at Sportfest. Contributed but Riziq Fattah.

Sportsfest, an annual charity sports event hosted by the UNC Muslim Students Association, is coming to Hooker Fields and Woollen Gym over the long weekend.

The event will take place on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, with the flag football and basketball tournaments occurring on different days.

“It’s a fun way to bring the community together, and at the same time, doing something for the broader community,” said Amira Mustafa, the UNC MSA Community Service chairperson.

More than 100 people across 19 teams will participate in this year's event according to Huda Tauseef, the social chairperson of UNC MSA. 

“Anyone can come together to make a team and participate in the event,” Tauseef said. “All the money goes to charity.”

When choosing where to donate, Yakin Ouederni, the UNC MSA event coordinator, emphasized that board members discuss different problems or causes that weren’t getting as much attention as they deserve.

“We usually do a proceeds to a global charity, something that affects a problem that maybe isn’t talked about enough but is going on overseas,” said Ouederni. “It’s a collective decision to come up with causes that we feel are really important in the current year.”

This year, board members of UNC MSA have elected to direct Sportsfest proceeds to the Rohingya people in Myanmar and to crisis relief in Yemen. Tauseef said in recent years, UNC MSA has made several thousand dollars each year from Sportsfest.

Sportsfest has attracted people of all ages across the East Coast. Tauseef said the event has reached people from as far as Atlanta. 

“It’s been going on for a very long time, which is why we have parents come because they’ve been coming since they were in college,” Ouederni said. “So now we have guys who are now 40 years old and are still coming back and bringing their kids.”

Two years ago, UNC MSA started a bake sale at Sportsfest, with those proceeds aiding local refugees.

“The bake sale is just something we thought to do because these athletes are here for the weekend, and during a break a lot of them would graze over to our stand,” Tauseef said. “It’s really fun for the volunteers of MSA. This week they’re going shopping and baking on the weekend right before the event. It’s a super fun way to get all the volunteers together.”

The event also includes various breaks for Muslim participants to pray.

“During the tournament, there’s a few prayers that come in, which is awesome because this wouldn’t happen in any other setting,” Tauseef said. “Muslims are used to scrambling just to find some time and privacy (to) pray, but we actually have that scheduled in as a break during the tournament.”

Organizers of Sportsfest have been planning for months in advance for the weekend event.

“I’ve been working on this since the summer when I started reaching out to Campus Rec,” Tauseef said. “When the school year starts, we do a lot of publicity for the event. We create flyers. We email old captains and tell him the event is starting again this year. Then we open up registration for a month. The teams register and they create rosters.”

Mustafa noted that there will be referees and athletic trainers available.

“We want it to be a well-organized event, especially if people are paying to play,” Mustafa said. “We want to have fair games with refs.”

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