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News - Details

Soccer, Ramadan and the Muslim American Experience

April 30, 2021 11:17 AM


The DE&I Committee will be hosting is first public webinar on Thursday, May 6th at 12pm CT. We would like to invite you and your staff along with the members of your state association to join us.

Please join us as we invite four esteemed members of the USYS community to share their soccer experience.  Learn how their unique Muslim traditions and lifestyle differences influenced their love of the game. In addition, they’ll share some advice and guidance for non-Muslim players and staff to ensure their soccer environment is as inclusive and welcoming as possible. Tune in to this enlightening webinar hosted by Hanah Shehaiber, featuring Esfandiar “Esse” Baharmast, Mostafa Edders, Lamine Balde and Ismail Elfath.

Register TODAY!

Picture of Hanah Shehaiber Hanah, a native of Palestine, emigrated from Dubai to Chicago with her family at the age of 9. She has 23 years of combined experience as a coach and referee. She holds a USSF C Coaching License, and has coached varsity high school soccer, both boys and girls, as well as Junior college to NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer teams. She held several club stints, including Director of Coaching for Spartans Soccer Club and coaching for Chicago Fire Juniors South SC. Previously, Hanah founded Hattrick Futbol Club, a youth soccer club, to provide opportunities for those less privileged. She has refereed for USSF and College (GCC) matches, and currently is a referee for the IHSA. She became the 1st woman in Illinois history to referee a state title championship match as a center, for both boys and girls soccer. Hanah has a Bachelor's in Social Sciences, with a focus in Secondary Education and History, with a minor in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago/St Xavier University Chicago. Hanah currently is a freelance writer for Referee Magazine.
Picture of Esse Baharmast Esfandiar “Esse” Baharmast, a former referee, player, coach and current instructor has been involved in more than a dozen World Cup tournaments and Olympic Games, and is the 2020 winner of U.S. Soccer’s prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award. Baharmast is a retired FIFA international referee best known for becoming the first American to officiate two matches in a single World Cup as a center referee, an accomplishment achieved during the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. He was first appointed to the Spain versus Nigeria match on June 13 at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, but the most famous assignment came when he was appointed to the Brazil-Norway match played on June 23 at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. With the match tied at 1-1 and Norway needing a victory, Baharmast whistled Brazilian defender Júnior Baiano for a foul on striker Tore André Flo in the 88th minute that resulted in a 2-1 win for the Norwegians. Two days of heavy world-wide criticism of the decision by the ‘American’ referee ensued, until a Swedish television station broadcast unseen footage that clearly showed the penalty decision to be correct. The call was later selected by Referee Magazine as one of the "Best 18 Calls of All Time.“ Prior to that experience, he officiated several matches during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, including the semifinal match between Portugal and Argentina.
Picture of Ismail Elfath A native of Casablanca, Morocco, Ismail Elfath moved to the U.S. in 2001 at the age of 18. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006, Elfath began a successful career in corporate consulting. Elfath began his career blowing the whistle in 2005 and quickly rose through the ranks. Since reaching the professional level in 2009, he now has more than 250 professional matches to his name. Elfath has been a member of the FIFA Panel since 2016. Named Major League Soccer Referee of the Year in 2020, he refereed the Final of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, and the FIFA Club World Cup as well as the CONCACAF Gold Cup. At the club level, Elfath officiated last summer’s MLS is Back Tournament Final as well as the MLS Conference Finals in 2015, 2017 & 2019 and MLS All-Star Games in 2015. Elfath was recently named to the list of referees to take charge of the Football Tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In addition to his world travels for soccer and corporate sales, Elfath leads a busy home life as an active Muslim-American who hosts interfaith dialogues and other community outreach programs in Austin, TX. 
Picture of Lamine Balde Lamine Balde, a native of the African country of Guinea, has coached with the Arsenal Football Club of PA (ages 13-16) since August of 2018 and has coached training sessions with the Olympic Development Program of PA West Youth Soccer Association since July of 2016. He has previously worked with FC Pittsburgh Soccer Club and Soccer7 Training Program. Balde is currently an Intern Assistant Coach for the men's soccer program at Washington & Jefferson College. Prior to this, Balde served as a graduate assistant with his alma mater, Bethany College, during the 2015 and 2016 seasons where he was responsible for coaching, conditioning, training and recruiting for both the men's and women's programs. As a player, Balde played with the Pittsburgh HotSpurs for their inaugural season in 2019. Balde played for three seasons with the Fort Pitt Regiment (2018, 2016, 2015), where he was the leading scorer for his team in both 2015 and 2016. In 2017, Balde competed with Indy Eleven. While there he also trained with the 1st team (USL Pro). Balde was a four-year member for the Bison men’s soccer team, where he earned three letters and two All-PAC Second-Team selections. His conference honors came following both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Over his four-year career, Balde tallied 26 goals, 12 assists and 64 total points. His best season came as a senior in 2013 when he ranked second in the conference in points (24) and third in goals (nine). Balde graduated from Bethany with a Bachelor of Art degree in Sports Management and earned his graduate degree in 2016 in Master of Arts in Teaching.
Picture of Mostafa Edders Mostafa Edders, Moroccan-American, is the Director of Coaching of the Green White Soccer Club in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Mostafa holds several coaching licenses, including the highly esteemed UEFA A and USSF A License. Mostafa earned his Director of Coaching Diploma in 2018 from United Soccer Coaches Association. In 1998, Mostafa began his coaching career at Lake View High School as boys varsity head coach. From 1999 to 2009, he served as Director of Coaching for Hawks Soccer Club. In 2002, he was named Illinois Youth Soccer Association Coach of the Year. He then traveled to Qatar to coach in 2010 as the U20 Head coach, and a year later was named Head Coach for the IZK Professional men’s team in Morocco. In 2012, Mostafa led the CRA Men’s pro team in Morocco. In 2014, Coach Edders took on a new role as Women’s Pro Team Head Coach in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He returned to the US to coach in Illinois for USSF Development Academy and club teams in 2016 and hasn’t stopped since. Before his coaching career, Mostafa played internationally professional soccer, 9 years in Morocco and 2 years in Paris, France. He was a part of the Moroccan National Men’s Team from 1985-1986, 1989, and from 1991 to 1993.