GAC, Street Soccer Twin Cities unite for barrier-free soccer camp

Published: Jul. 24, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - The game of soccer is captivating the hearts of Minnesotan’s everyday — although, beyond that are communities forced to choose between faith and sport.

“Thinking of the standard soccer uniform, it’s shorts, it’s short sleeves. With Muslims it’s usually long sleeves, longer pants if possible,” Street Soccer Twin Cities youth counselor Subeida Ismail said.

Gustavus Adolphus College and Street Soccer Twin Cities partnered up inviting nearly 140 kids to a soccer camp absent of cultural, financial and geographical barriers.

“When I see a young woman wearing hijabi, also smiling and having a good time and feeling a sense of welcome. I really didn’t have that experience at a young age,” founder of Street Soccer Twin Cities, Hani Haybe shared.

Most of the camps participants come from immigrant families and it’s barriers that threaten the inclusion of individuals from minority backgrounds that inspired Haybe to make her nonprofit accessible throughout the state.

“Soccer changed my life and has given me opportunities to represent my community, because in my community, I love the game but it’s not something that young women are encouraged to do,” added Haybe.

The four-day camp also gave youth access to the brilliant soccer minds of the area, including the head coach of the Gustavus women’s soccer team.

“They teach me how to use a soccer ball. I used to play soccer like this, then they teach me this is the right way,” Minneapolis 10-year-old participant, Fatima Ahmed said.

“I’m looking at this field and I’m seeing all these players and I’m seeing a lot of potential with some of these soccer players and it’s very sad to think without this opportunity that potential would’ve gone untapped,” said Ismail.

Growing the game begins with equality and inclusion.

“I think all communities should get to know each other and I think all communities should know about their cultures. I would just be easier to not make stereotypes based on what you see, but learn about the person based on what they say and their actions,” said participant Zam Zam Noor.

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