New York City Football Club is committed to delivering safe and free soccer programming across the Five Boroughs through City in the Community.
Rumaiz Ahmed is keen to give back to his community through the power of soccer, and was recently given an honorable mention for the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award by The ESPY Awards for work performed in his local community.
We spoke to Rumaiz to learn more about his journey with CITC and what motivates him to give back.
Tell us about yourself…
My name is Rumaiz Ahmed. I go to Aviation High School. I came to the United States in 2016.
I was born in Jordan, but I moved to Egypt for my education and I’ve been to Sri Lanka once in a while, and then I came here to the United States after that.
I have a passion for soccer and computer science and I've been part of City in the Community for a while. They’ve shown me ways of using those two together and promoting soccer for everyone.
How did you get involved with CITC?
I was introduced to Saturday Night Lights (SNL) by one of my friends as well as Principle Moses from Thomas Edison High School. I was playing in SNL for fun for a while and then I struck upon an opportunity with the Youth Leadership Council (YLC).
What did you enjoy about Saturday Night Lights?
It gave me a free and safe environment to play soccer in. It gave me a lot more new friends and helped me make new connections.
I also met a lot of coaches who were willing to help me anytime I needed them to; whether it be with advice or with opportunities to get better at doing something. Whether it’s help with jobs or resumes, they've helped me a lot.
What do you love about Soccer?
The fact that you can play anywhere with anyone. You can go to any part of the world and you might not understand the language, but soccer is a universal language that you can speak with everyone.
If you told them that you want to play soccer with them they will understand. I actually experienced it myself in New York. I was at a park and the people there didn’t understand English, they only spoke Spanish, but we still managed to play a two-hour game. They didn’t understand my language, I didn’t understand their language, but we still managed to have fun.
Can you talk to us about your journey with CITC?
After being with SNL for a while they started the Young Leader Training (YLT) that they have. I went through that program and got the certificate saying that I'm certified as a CITC coach.
From there on I went to the Cyber Island program and that gave me the opportunity to work on Stem programming with Heather Butts.
I met Paul Jeffries [Executive Director of CITC] during the Soccer Bloc tournament. Paul gave me the opportunity to work with him on the StreetGols application. We've been working on it for the past year.
You mentioned the Young Leader Training. What do you feel you took from that experience?
One thing that I definitely learned is how to give back to the community.
It also taught me how to train people and connect with them emotionally. It's important because if you don't emotionally connect to the people, then you can't coach them.
As well as soccer skills they teach you how to give back to the community in a safe and responsible way. They teach you how to figure out a problem that the community might have, and try to bring a solution for it through soccer.
What do you love about CITC?
Just getting to know a lot more people and getting more opportunities.
The fact that I could give back to the community through soccer, while also being happy and having a lot of fun and getting to know more people, is great.
When I was in SNL I was just playing with the people I knew there but when I went to the Young Leader Training I met more people. At the end of the day, it’s more opportunities, more connections, and opportunities to learn.
I would say there's a family element to it because nothing happens without someone else knowing about it. Like, if I go and talk to someone; say I go talk to coach Darwin [Ordonez] he will try to help me out by talking to coach Mauricio [Maya] or whoever. Everyone is willing to help you out without a second thought, no questions asked.
What has been your best day with CITC?
The Young Leader Training, because it was in a school environment, but we learned about the different people in the community, and how they all have different needs.
We also played soccer and I got to meet a lot of new people. Overall, that one week was just different.
You also were recently acknowledged at the ESPYs for your work in the community, how did that feel?
I was pretty happy when they chose me as a regional honoree. I was being recognized by a top award - one of the best awards out there. A lot of people are going to be at the ESPYs like Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi, so I feel happy and proud.
I really didn't look into earning any awards or have anything given to me when I started with CITC, so I’ve always just been driven because it’s something I love doing. It’s just something extra in my opinion. My family are all pretty proud of me and excited.
I owe a lot to the people in CITC who helped me to become who I am right now; Bailee Eaglin, Mauricio Maya, Paul Jeffries, Kwame King, and Prospero Herrera.
What would you say to someone that is considering joining CITC?
I would definitely say it's a wonderful experience. You will get to meet a lot of people. There's a lot of opportunities that they give you.
I did talk to my friend about this. He said he didn't want to do this because he didn't have an interest, but I told him that once you get into the program, you will see that you have more interest.
He has a soccer background too, so I said to him, “Since you have a soccer background and you like being around people this is a good opportunity. You should go to CITC because of the connections you will make and the way you will give back to your community.”
What are your hopes for the future with CITC?
I've been working with Paul on the StreetGols app. It's an app that allows people to play soccer freely, with no permit or anything like that, anywhere in the world.
I was hoping to get to Cyber Island and meet more people and get more people involved because it’s the future. I was hoping that I could offer Cyber Island to more kids in the community.