Fire soccer, a unique Ramadhan tradition

The Jakarta Post/ANN

The Islamic boarding school students of Pondok Pesantren (Ponpes) Khalifatullah Singo Ludiro in Mojolaban, Sukoharjo, Central Java, have a unique tradition during the holy month of Ramadhan. Locally known as santri, the students were found happily playing fire soccer on Tuesday night, passing and kicking the flaming fireball toward the opponent’s goal just like in regular soccer.

Though not wearing any shoes, the players seemed unaware of any heat or pain during their match.

“This game aims to increase confidence, bravery and collaboration. Amid current intolerance issues, we have to remain strong and united,” said the head of Ponpes Singo Ludiro, Agung Syuhada.

He added that fire SOCCER was one way to praise God; it proves that God’s miracle is everywhere and truly exists.

“Through the game we show proof that God owns the fire and also gives us strength. Everyone can play fire soccer; they only have to surrender to God.”

Prior to playing the game, the students soaked their feet in water that has been prayed over with Asmaul Husna (the 99 names of God).

Agung said the tradition served as an opportunity to improve the santri’s mentality and was only played during their holidays and during Islamic celebrations like Ramadhan.

“At this Ponpes, the fire soccer became a tradition years ago. We’re only trying to preserve the heritage of our ancestors,” said Agung.

One santri, 17-year-old Abdul Hamid, said that the game was really fun and he had been playing it since three years ago.

“All of the students can play it; all you need is bravery and faith that Allah will protect us,” he said, adding that the ball was made out of old and dry coconuts that were soaked in kerosene. After the kerosene sinks in, the coconuts are blanketed in cloth prior to being ignited.