Name: Walid Ali
National Origin/Family From: Alexandria, Egypt
Walid is from Alexandria but he calls Astoria home. “The top of Steinway, it’s like back there. At that cafe, they show the Morroco games [of the African Cup of Nations]. And there they show Algeria. And down the block, when Egypt plays, the hookah bars are full, watching the games. The last time, when Algeria won the tournament, they shut down the street for celebrations.”
How did you first fall in love with The Beautiful Game?
Since I was a kid I grew up in a family that loved soccer. I was into it since I was 5 years old. My uncles played soccer so I played with them. I played in college too but then I came here and didn’t have time anymore. Back then it wasn’t just a sport, it was a lifestyle, everyday.
Which leagues and teams do you follow?
Right now I watch the English League the most, and the Champions League. And the Egyptian league too of course. Al Ahly is my team. We won the African Champions League 8 times. They’re big, my whole family is crazy about this team.
When you moved here from Egypt, what made you choose Queens?
When I first came here I lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. But I like Astoria more because it has more life. It’s similar to Alexandria, Egypt, where I’m from. Astoria is alive 24 hours, and I love that.
The African Cup of Nations is going on right now. What’s it like watching your team in it?
I can’t watch haha, I get too stressed when my team doesn’t play well. Of course I want Egypt to win but they aren’t playing well right now.
We met when you were playing soccer with your son Zane. Does his name have any connection to family?
I chose the name Zane for my son because I wanted his name to be easy for everyone here in the US. But he is named after Zinadine Zidane, for me one of the greatest players ever.
Do you want your son to play soccer?
I would be the most happy person in this life if I see my son playing soccer. I trained my cousin before and I’m doing the same with my son now.
What inspires you about Queens having it’s own team?
Fitness is important to me. I work out almost every day and used to play soccer lots. A team like Queensboro, it’s philosophy of sport and fitness is good for people.