Mass. students gather, play basketball in support of Syrian refugees

Mass. students gather, play basketball in support of Syrian refugeesimage

23 Nov 2015

In light of the recent Syrian refugee crisis, the Islamic Society of Boston University hosted a “Hoop for Syria” basketball tournament at the SAC Gym Saturday as a part of their Syrian Refugee Fundraising Week. Approximately 40 students from different colleges came together to support the cause and play basketball.

This is the first time ISBU has hosted an event like this, said ISBU President Taiba Zahir. After being a part of the club for several years, Zahir, a junior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, wanted to do something unique, she said.

“We definitely wanted to step it up this year and do something different and I think this week-long event hasn’t been done before so I’m excited about it,” she said.

All of the funds raised from the events during the Syrian Refugee Fundraising Week will be donated to NuDay Syria, a local charity benefiting Syrian refugees. ISBU, however, was not only trying to raise money, but also trying to raise awareness for the cause.

Some members, such as Abdulmajeed Hashem, said they feel there is not enough awareness on BU’s campus.

“There is some awareness,” Hashem, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “I always see on the bathroom stalls the help for Syria but I don’t feel that there’s that much awareness generally. I don’t hear that much talk about it.”

Players had to pay $10 to participate in the basketball games and $3 to participate in the three-point contest.

“We wanted to do the Syria Refugee Fundraising Week and we wanted to have different components to it,” Zahir said. “So we had a vigil. We had a table for donations and then we were kind of thinking of a fun thing that we haven’t done in the past and we thought a basketball tournament because a lot of our members like to play basketball.”

In order to make the tournament happen, members voiced their opinions to help ISBU come up with ideas for the events during the fundraising week, said Faridat Ilupeju, external affairs coordinator for ISBU and a sophomore in the College of General Studies.

“We had general body meetings and had people come in and state what ideas they had of how we can effectively raise money, and so a freshman said that we should do a bake sale and we took that idea and ran with it and we’ve made a lot of money,” she said.

Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, players started trickling into the SAC Gym and began taking practice shots on the courts. Music played from the speakers while many of the players talked to each other both on and off the court. As the beginning of the tournament approached, an air of competitiveness fell over the gym as many players discussed strategies or rooted for their teammates from the sidelines.

Around 4 p.m., the first games began, but were momentarily stopped shortly afterwards for 10 minutes as many of the players lined up in rows shoulder to shoulder and recited a prayer.

Afterwards, the games resumed and a relaxed, casual atmosphere again filled the gym as the players engaged in friendly conversation and continued to cheer each other on.

While the players were divided into different teams, participants shared the same reasons for coming out and participating in the event.

Saarem Bhatti, 19, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said he found that the importance of the issue outweighs the cost of participating.

“Most of the time I don’t want to pay to play basketball but today it’s for Syria so you might as well come out here, donate money and have fun at the same time,” he said. “So that’s the goal.”

Nafis Ahmed, 23, also of UMass, said he felt similarly that this fundraiser was worth the money and time because the Syrian refugee crisis is an important issue that should concern all citizens of the world.

“Whatever we raise will be good. I think it’s a relevant cause, a humanitarian cause,” he said. “It’s not a Syrian issue, it’s a humanitarian issue. So injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”