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Kith and Kin - Household Games

Kith and Kin - Household Games

Issue 76 January 2011

Brothers playing in the NFL, Hamza of the Arizona Cardinals and Husain of the Minnesota Vikings talk about American football, faith and family.



When I was 11, my older brother Abbas signed up to the local football team and after seeing how much fun he had, I asked my dad to sign me up the following year. Abbas used to come home with his pads on, and we would help him with the drills in our backyard.
Husain and I were competitive about everything but we liked to play on the same team in football. Even on video games, we’d create ourselves and put the characters on the same team.
When Husain moved into my college apartment, he thought it would be smooth sailing and that big brother would take care of everything. I brought him back down to earth when I started checking his homework, turning off his XBox, making him do chores and start paying bills. I just wanted him to make sure he worked as hard as he could, and reached his full potential on and off the field.
Husain is the classic younger brother as he tries to better everything I do. When I got my scholarship, he worked his tail off to get one too. Even now, he’s already started more games than I have in the NFL. He is like a watermelon seed; no matter where you plant it, it’s going to sprout. I’ve really learnt a lot from him about determination.
We recently played against each other for the first time. Unfortunately, Husain’s team won in overtime, but it was a really exciting game. Though I wanted our team to win the game, I was still cheering for my brother to do well. My mother taught me, “What you want for your brother should be what you want for yourself.” But he does like to brag about the result at all our family gatherings.
It’s great to have someone that’s going through the same thing you are, so we talk a few times during the week, which makes it easier to deal with things. We realise that we might be the only Muslims that some people come across, so we hope to be positive examples of what Islam represents.
Husain and I have always been thankful for what we have; the chances of making it into the NFL are slim, but the probability of two brothers from the same household making it are even slimmer.



Growing up, I always looked up to my brothers Abbas and Hamza, and wanted to be just like them. I saw them having fun playing football so I wanted to start playing too. We were always competitive, but we saw it more as a way to better ourselves, rather than get one-up on each other.
I played throughout high school and earned a scholarship to Washington State University, where Hamza was a student. We didn’t get to play together much when we were younger because of age and weight restrictions, but it was great being able to finally play on the same team at college. During one match, I looked over and saw Hamza on my team and fell into a daydream. I was out of it until the quarterback yelled “Hike!” at me, and I scrambled to get my head back into the game.

 When Hamza was drafted by the Buccaneers, I realised there was actually a possibility for me to play professionally. A lot of players change when they get the money and limelight that the NFL brings. He remained humble and never took anything for granted. My brother has always been one of my role models and he’s always been supportive; making sure the decisions I make are the right ones and are in my best interest.

 It still means a lot to me playing as a professional Muslim footballer. We didn’t really know about any Muslim athletes when we were younger, but I was so excited when I found out that Hakeem Olajuwon was Muslim. To see a Muslim make it in the world of sports was amazing, and I only hope that I might one day have that affect on young Muslims around the world that he had on me.

 Hamza and I are quite similar, but that’s most probably down to the fact that I used to copy him when I was younger. But he’s a lot more outspoken than I am. We don’t get to see each other much during the season, but we get together as a family at other times. We usually train together in preparation for the upcoming season.
Luckily, we both have a lot of support from our parents and siblings. I love playing football, but I think they still get more excited than I do.


To enjoy more of our inspiring Kith and Kin stories, like the one above, click here

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