Meet Our Newest Coach: Yahya Alasad Coach Yahya, originally from Syria, joined Yalla in September 2017 on an OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) grant through our partners Up2Us. He tells us a little of his story with the help of student translator Anas Bassam.
Exploring El Cajon Su–Mei visits El Cajon and discovers this vibrant community’s unique collection of middle eastern restaurants and markets. She also visits a non-profit organization called Yalla that provides invaluable academic services and support to the area's large population of children from refugee families.
Soccer Is the Best Way to Solve Problems, Say Refugee Kids Inside a nondescript building on the corner of East Main Street and Avocado Boulevard in El Cajon, dozens upon dozens of shiny porcelain soccer balls sit on desktops and counters. It’s hard to find a level surface that isn’t playing host to a small soccer ball-shaped vase. Instead of holding flowers, each holds writing utensils. It almost looks like an army of No.2 pencils and pens have punctured each little ball. Welcome to Yalla. The word means “Let’s Go!” in Arabic, and the concept is deceptively simple: Use an existing passion to inspire learning in students. Yalla’s young participants are composed entirely of refugees and immigrants. “We use soccer as a hook to entice children to come in and get academic,” admits Sarah Cooper, the organization’s interim executive director. “The kids come in, and they want to play soccer.” By Erin Siegal McIntyre
Children from War Zones Thriving in San Diego County To watch Osama Abdulazez play soccer with his friends in El Cajon you wouldn’t guess what they’ve been through. “Terrorists go after everybody and my dad was threatened,” the 14-year-old tells NBC 7. He and his family fled their home in Baghdad because of those threats. Abdulazez plays soccer every week with other refugee children, but his family in Iraq is never far from his mind. Like the rest of these children of war, Abdulazez hopes to live a long and successful life in his new American home. “Programs like Yalla help you not just in soccer, in school, in life basically,” Abdulazez says. A world away from what they know, a familiar sport is helping these children make goals for the next chapter in their lives. By Brie Stimson and Ramon Galindo