Mundelein resident reaches youth through soccer
Mundelein Soccer Club President Shah Quaiyoom (second from left) surrounded by his wife Belinda (from left), sons Brandon and Blake, and daughter Melissa. | For Sun-Times Media
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “I encourage kids to stay in school and learn from each other.”
Updated: December 5, 2012 10:54AM
MUNDELEIN — Shah Quaiyoom is known for his work in many community organizations. He’s influential in Boy Scouts of America, is a Mundelein Days commissioner and DJs at various fundraisers. However, most people know Quaiyoom from his six years as president of the Mundelein Soccer Club — a traveling soccer organization consisting of more than 250 kids from Antioch, Gurnee, Round Lake, Long Grove, Mundelein and unincorporated Fremont Township.
Q. As club president, what do your duties involve?
A. The Mundelein Soccer Club is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which means there’s a lot of paperwork. I also coach where needed, and I’m coaching five teams in the spring, ages six up through high school. I also coach a U-23 team in the summer. Right now we’re running a coat and cleat drive – the winter coats go to Fremont Township for needy families and soccer cleats are for kids all over the world who cannot afford them. A couple years ago, we donated 100 pairs to the country of Gahanna, in Africa. A friend of mine works for a power company out there and asked if we had any shoes he could take with for the natives. We also donate lightly used shoes to clubs in Palatine and Chicago. Our club has needy kids too, and we do fundraisers to help some of the families that cannot afford to register their kids.
Q. Those activities have deeper roots than playing a sport. What other messages do you convey to your players?
A. A lot of the families see that I have a college degree and a good job as an electrical engineer. Being president or coach is more than showing up at practice and kicking a ball around. I encourage kids to stay in school and learn from each other. … It’s important for us to do whatever we can to keep them involved so they’re away from danger.
Q. What does soccer mean to kids today?
A. Many kids are now playing Fifa Soccer on Xbox and they know the names of popular players. Soccer is no longer a hidden sport, but what holds it back is statistics. Most American sports are driven by betting in Las Vegas, with brackets and triple crowns and RBIs. Soccer is not a statistic-driven sport.
Q. What was soccer like for you growing up?
A. I started the soccer program at Warren High School in 1980-81. I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the U.S. when I was 16. There was no soccer team at Warren when I got here, so I talked to the trustees and superintendent trying to convince them to start a team. I told them “Warren Township High School will have a state championship before you do anything with your football program.” That came true a couple weeks ago when I turned 50, because on my birthday the Warren soccer team won a state championship. When I was a student, we started a club team because the school wouldn’t let us make a school team. I called the nearby schools and offered to play their teams as friendly scrimmages and some of them did bus their teams to Warren to play us. That club kept going until one year the school instituted a team.