By ERICA HARBATKIN, STAFF WRITER – firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — About 600 Muslim athletes descended on Crossroads South Middle School on Saturday for the first-ever Islamic Games.
Kids ages 8 to 17 kicked soccer balls, shot basketballs, spiked volleyballs, rounded wickets and ran sprints in the first annual event sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America.Hassan Syed, 13, of North Brunswick, was scrambling up to the last minute to put together a soccer team fit to compete in the games.
"The team that we were versing, they were much more experienced. They were registered a long time before us," Hassan said after the disappointing 4-1 loss.
But the day wasn't a complete loss — Hassan and his teammates all said the game was very competitive, and made for a good challenge.
"I like how they competed with us and how tough they were," said Ahad Shahid, 11, of Edison, who plays in leagues in Edison.
"The game wasn't that bad," said Alamzeb Khan, 11, of Booten, who wants
to play basketball in next year's games. "But I cost the team two goals
because two of them bounced off my foot and went in the goal."
But as his teammates sat around him eating post-game snacks, no one seemed to be too concerned about it.
"I've known them a long time," he said.
Ahmed Soliman, 17, of Woodbridge, was nearby waiting for his basketball
game to begin. With basketball drawing the most participants, many
teams waited a long time for their games to tip off.
Soliman, who was a wrestler at JFK High School in Woodbridge before
transferring to Piscataway's An-Noor Academy, said he decided to
compete on a whim.
"I was playing basketball and my friends told me about it," he said. "I had nothing better to do so I came along."
Others had been looking forward to the weekend for a while. Taahir
Latif, 16, of South Orange, jumped at the opportunity to play cricket.
"We always play cricket at our mosque," said Latif, who goes to the
National Islamic Association in Newark. "So when we saw a chance to
play in a cricket tournament, we decided to go for it."