DC teen connecting refugees to communities through soccer

For Sidwell Friends senior, Zayd Ali, soccer is more than a game.

Ali and his family travelled to several different countries when he was younger. The one thing he would see over and over again is people playing soccer.

Whether it was on a gravel covered lot or a manicured field, he saw the game being played everywhere he went.

He soon fell in love with the game.  

A conversation he had with an Uber driver five years ago helped him put his love of soccer and his will to help in motion. He and the driver, who was from Brazil, talked the entire 25minute trip.

"It made me realize that if soccer could have such an impact on one person, how could I take that unique power and apply it to my own community? That’s when OnSide was born,” said Ali. 

OnSide is a group that uses soccer to build relationships between refugees to the community they are entering. It also raises awareness in an effort to break down stereotypes and increase understanding among cultures.

OnSide holds Refugee Soccer Days, an event filled with pick-up soccer games involving refugees and members of the community.

His group also sells an activism-inspired clothing line which donates a soccer ball to disadvantaged children for every item of clothing sold. Ali calls it, “soccer diplomacy.” 

Easterns Automotive Group donated money to support the upcoming soccer events and soccer balls to help with the organization’s mission.