How Football is Bringing Hope To New York's Yemeni Community

In New York City, work is king and dreams only happen if you’re willing to sweat. Nowhere is this truer than at Yemen United, a soccer team caught between the expectations of the old country and the pressures of the new.

Photo by    Liz Sanders

Photo by Liz Sanders

How Football is Bringing Hope to New York's Yemeni Community


It’s 5:30 in the morning, unseasonably cold and still dark in New York. Haidara Nasser, Osama Alsahybi, Ahmed Alzandhani and Abdullah Shaiba are on their way to the Bronx in Haidara’s minivan, which is at least a decade old but impeccably clean, with an improbable sunroof. They’re on the way to play their first game as members of the Yemen United Soccer Club. All of them worked until midnight, and no one has eaten a proper breakfast.

The day before, Ahmed, 18, and Haidara, 19, both of whom grew up in Brooklyn and speak fluent English and Spanglish, went to a Dominican barber shop for a “medium skin fade”. They wanted to look slick for the game. Afterwards, with gelled curls piled high above freshly shaved temples, Haidara headed to his afternoon shift at the family bodega, and Ahmed headed to Friday prayers.

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