By Adel Mozip
The Yemeni American News
Remember the names: Hammam Nasser, Sanad Yahya, and Ali Nasser. The three (trio) Edsel Ford High School seniors on their route to play soccer for Division 1 universities. Sanad and Ali who coincidentally were born on the same day (Ali argues he’s hours older) have a friendship story to tell.
All three started at Salina Elementary and began playing soccer at a young age. For Hammam, his family is heavily involved in soccer where they lead the grassroots soccer organization “Michigan Yemen Sports Association – MYSA”. Their fathers pushed them to be involved in soccer because it was a passion for theirs as well.
Ali Nasser tells the Yemeni American News “My dad came from a big family. He has 14 siblings. My dad was a major player in Lebanon but had to leave soccer because of his father’s illness. He gave up his dream of becoming a professional player but still wants to achieve his dream by me becoming a professional player.”
Sanad also thanks his father for inspiring him to be a soccer dreamer. He attributes his love for the beautiful game because of his father. “My father inspired me. Since 5, I’ve been going to soccer games, and ever since I started playing it, I fell in love with it, and I can’t see my future without it.”
The bar is higher for Hammam though. He tells the Yemeni American News “I came from a sports family. Being the fact that I am from a known family for sports it meant that I have to always do better.”
From humble beginnings to prime youth academies:
On his beginnings, Sanad says “I started playing in my community and my father noticed that I was standing out. I was recruited by Waza FC. I remember the State Cup in 2015, I scored the winning goal in the quarterfinals and semifinals. We lost the State Champions for the U-15 but I was invited to Vardar Academy.”
Ali began with Dearborn Mustangs (U8). “When AC Milan came to Michigan, they hosted a camp and picked 3 to go Italy. I was lucky to be one of those 3. I played with AC Milan Academy and got called back in the following summer. The coaches saw the talent in me. I got a camp invitation from the U.S. National team at Michigan State University. I stayed with Vardar U-14 and U-15.”
Similarly, Hammam started playing with MYSA at 5 years old. He tells the Yemeni American News “I played with them till I was U-11. I was then recruited by Waza at age 12. With the U-14, we made it to the State’s semi-final. The biggest accomplishment for me as the team is a tournament we won was in Chicago in 2014 because it was a critical point for the team to go back to winning. In 2015, I was recruited by Vardar Academy and got accepted to their U15 academy.” Hamam was recruited by the Portland Timberlands Youth Team to play for the Adidas Generation Cup as well as a World tournament representing the U.S. in Sweden in 2016.
Vardar is one of the two professional soccer academies in Michigan affiliated with Roma FC. Sanad was invited to open training and practices and joined the team in 2016.
All three players are longing for the moment to be professional players. Ali says “that’s our dream, we are still going to do well in academics, but we have not come this far to just play college football. We’re in it for the pros!”
Balancing soccer and school:
On juggling school work and soccer, all three mentioned on how to difficult it is to manage time. They also mentioned on how they also work to help their families with the academy’s expenses. Ali tells the Yemeni American News “It’s very difficult. Our schedules are on the clock. I also work five days a week. I leave school at 12:17. I get to work at 1:17 and then soccer practice at 8.”
Sanad mentions that his ultimate goal of becoming a professional player is what keeps him going saying “there are moments where you’re dead tired but you still have to stay on top and keep the end goal in mind.”
Asking each player on their challenges, Sanad said “it’s patience, there were moments where I was thinking about giving up. But I always go back and reflect with God. I went through a phase where I didn’t play, but that didn’t stop me. I kept my faith in God and then in myself.”
Ali’s challenge was seeing his parents part ways but he’s finally glad that they’re great at co-parenting.
Other challenges the trio mentioned they face is the backlash they get from others. Sanad explains, “some people think that we have it easy. They mistake our passion for arrogance. I hate losing; when people see me yelling or shouting on the field, it’s because of my passion.”
Asking the trio on whom has made a huge difference in their journeys to become a prospect college soccer players. Ali said “Without the help of my father, I am beyond thankful to him and his dedication. I am blessed to have a father like mine. If it wasn’t for him, nothing would be possible.”
Sanad and Hammam agreed. They both mentioned if it wasn’t for their families, they would not be this far.” Sanad and Hammam credit the MYSA organization for supporting and encouraging them.
Sanad tells us “everyone around has played their role. Even the people who didn’t support me played a role in me doing more than what’s expected so I can prove them wrong. Hammam’s dad is always there to help us, driving us all the time to practices for the academy..”
Hammam’s father, Mr. Mohamed Nasser is no stranger to the soccer community in metro Detroit. He founded MYSA and organized many tournaments and programs for the youth since 2003. When asking him on his son’s accomplishment, he tells us “We might be asking him a lot from him [Hammam] in not only doing well on the field but also with school work. However, I think it’s important to challenge. I want our children to also give back to the community.”
Mr. Nasser through MYSA has been pushing youth to get them to the next level of entering academies but stresses that parents need to be supportive on many fronts including time and money.
Favorite Players and Role Model in Soccer:
Sanad and Ali are heading to Marshall University in West Virginia to study engineering while playing for their soccer game while Hammam will be a Butler striker in Indiana.