Hundreds of athletes come to North Texas for Ismaili sports event

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A national, multisport competition brought some 1900 young athletes to North Texas this weekend.

The event is held each year to promote healthy living and to celebrate the diversity within the Ismaili Muslim community. Organizers spoke to NBC 5 about the significance of hosting the event in the DFW metroplex this year.

The games are intense, and the competition is fierce. Athletes converged on the metroplex to compete against their peers from across the U.S. They’re known as the United States Ismaili Games. The weekend activities included more than twenty sports including basketball, soccer, cricket, and volleyball.

Kiran Keshwani was one of the volleyball players from North Texas. She said the experience was surreal.

“It’s my family support that allows me to be able to get out there and practice, and also the support of the people around me,” Keshwani said. “Together, we’re coming to do our best. And our slogan is one Jamaad which means we’re all one."

The games are hosted by the Ismaili Council for the Central United States. The Ismaili Muslim community is part of the Shia interpretation of the Muslim faith. Omar Samji is the communications coordinator for the council. He said one of the main objectives of the United States Ismaili Games is to promote the values of sportsmanship and foster a sense of community.

 “Yes, you can tell people about your values and principles and what you believe. But a lot of it comes down to just sharing through actions our common values,” Samji said.

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North Texas is said to have one of the largest and fastest-growing Ismaili populations in the U.S. Bringing hundreds of youth and young adult athletes together at this level took roughly 18 months of planning. Roughly 1,000 volunteers signed up in support of the games.

“The kids, as well as the parents, get so much energy from the community coming together. And this inspires the kids to go work harder,” said Asif Samani of the U.S. Ismaili Games.

Ultimately, it was the culmination of community, sportsmanship, faith, and family.

It’s not very often we get together, so this is the perfect opportunity to play,” said athlete, Lamia. “A lot of my family members are playing sports too, so this is it.”

The U.S. Ismaili Games are part of a series of festivals being held around the world. Many of the same participants will head to Dubai in 2024 for the Global Encounters Festival.

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