Diversity in American Soccer: An Interview with Simo Idrissi

Simo Idrissi Soccer player Mentality


In this article, we present an interview with Simo Idrissi, a former soccer player from Morocco who now lives in the United States. John Wahl, the interviewer, asks Simo about his experiences growing up in Morocco and playing soccer, including how he started his soccer career and the training he received as he progressed through different categories. Simo also discusses the cultural influences he had growing up, such as watching cowboy movies and listening to country music. Simo’s story is a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and the guidance of good coaches. This interview provides a fascinating look into the diversity of soccer and how it can bring people together from different backgrounds. We hope you enjoy reading about Simo’s experiences and insights.

Soccer in Morocco

Interviewer: You have shared your experience as a soccer player in Morocco. Soccer is becoming more popular in the United States, and many are curious about different cultures and styles of play. Can you tell us in this Interview with Simo Idrissi article how did you grow up in a professional soccer club in Morocco? How did your coaches set up practice sessions when you were a teenager and a young adult? What motivated or challenged you to keep improving your skills with physically and mentally demanding professional clubs?

Growing up in a Professional Soccer Club

Simo Idrissi: Thank you for having me again and for your interest in my story as an American citizen of Moroccan origin and as someone who can contribute to this great society. I appreciate your support for diversity, and I am ready to serve soccer in America, my home that I respect. It doesn’t matter where we come from as long as we serve our community in any way we can. For all Moroccan kids and teens back then, a soccer game was a way to have fun because we didn’t have much technology like computers and smartphones. We only had TVs, Walkmans, land phones, and a soccer ball.

Simo Idrissi in pre-season training session

Simo’s Early Life and Introduction to Soccer

Interviewer: Haha, I see. So that was you in Morocco back then?

Simo Idrissi: You are almost there, but yeah, that was me. You call this interview “Diversity in American Soccer: An Interview with Simo Idrissi” which made sense. We had Walkman to listen to songs, mostly Jack Brill, Lionel Richie, and country music. However, I seldom listen to local music. Usually, I learned many English words by listening to cowboys sing.

TV programs back then were about American cowboy movies, John Lennon’s, and late-night shows. Those shows launched in the early nineties. Anyway, jumping back to soccer, we looked forward to the weekends and holidays to play soccer in the streets or on dirt pitches all day. We had to study and do sports training at school during the weekdays. When we returned home at five in the evening, the TV program would start at six in the evening, and we would watch cartoons for an hour and then do our homework. When I was thirteen, I joined the IZK soccer club and trained every day from noon to two before returning to school.

Cultural Influences

Interviewer: That sounds like a great experience. The stories you shared with me are realistic and consistent, but surprising to know you were watching cowboy movies and listening to country music.

Simo Idrissi: Yes, I still remember a few songs like The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I watched TV shows by Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. What a time! It runs faster than I thought. Anyhow, back to soccer again. We used to play 60 minutes per game for six or seven games in a row during weekends. Sometimes we would play against the toughest neighborhood teams from other cities, but we always bet on something. We had ten teams from different neighborhoods competing with us. We beat them all because most of us were training with the IZK club. However, I got home so tired and wouldn’t talk to anyone. I would take a cold shower and fall asleep. It was a lot of fun playing soccer with my friends.

Training and Progression through Categories 

Interviewer: Can you tell us more about how you started your soccer career in Morocco?

Simo Idrissi: Sure, I can recall most things that happened back then. It was a fun moment, especially when playing with guys who were like brothers to me.

Starting a Soccer Career in Morocco

We stayed together for over six years. Then some of them went to different clubs, but I and others remained in the same club. I remember playing with my classmates in the elementary school sports yard. The physical education teacher told me to go to the stadium and talk to Coach Hijama. By the way, this official can play a scouting role.

The club stadium was very close to the school. In Morocco, especially in Khemisset, children were safe. We never heard of any problems happening. Children ten years old and above used to go to school by themselves, and only some families would accompany their kids. At age thirteen, I finished school, went to the stadium, met Mr. Hijama, and told him who I was. He gave me some information about the training time, which was at noon. So the next day, I started bringing my second bag carrying training clothes.

Interviewer: Did you do more physical exercises than soccer drills?

First Day of Training

Simo Idrissi: On the first day of training, we always were in physical exercises that lasted an hour or more, and we only had half an hour left for soccer drills. But for most of the sessions, we played games like the first team against the second team. When I got older, the training changed, and the coach taught us about positions, passing techniques, the purpose or goals of dribbling, how to pass the ball in any situation, and so on. The organized training sessions reshaped my mind differently and made me understand soccer as a team better. For example, when I was playing with the neighborhood teams.

When I was around eleven or twelve years old, I didn’t care about on-field positions. I would play as a center-mid and dribble the ball in any direction I pleased. Sometimes, my friends would get annoyed by my behavior, but I just loved to run with the ball.

Training with the Club

But when I started training with the club, the coach helped me correct some concepts and improve my knowledge of soccer as a player. I went through all the categories: Minim, Cady, Junior, and Espoir, and then I joined the adult team.

Soccer Categories

Interviewer: Interesting! What do the categories you mentioned mean?

Simo Idrissi: So far so good, the Diversity in American Soccer: An Interview with Simo Idrissi is great. So If I explain everything, your interview will turn into a book because of its length. My experience in soccer and life is detailed. But I am here to answer questions and be open.

An Interview with Simo Idrissi and Progressing into Professionalism

Interviewer: You are correct, I am not trying to write a whole book, but your story is a fascination and bright ideas and the experience you gained from a different culture. How did you hone and perfect your skills to make it a professional player?

Soccer player Simo Idrissi in pre-season training session 1990.

Minim Category

Simo Idrissi: To summarize each category, the Minim category was the youngest team in the Moroccan leagues. Coaches would organize physical conditioning and games and integrate skills to improve our performance. We enjoyed playing games more than doing drills. The coach never stops games because of a coaching moment until the game ends. When a soccer game stopped, the coach interfered and taught us new things and a one-sided exchange experience.

For instance, he would say, you did it this way, and in my hundred times of the same thing, I learned to do it this way. Usually, he discussed with us where to play, what to do, and how to move. The coach also showed us some new techniques.

Cadet Category

When we moved to the Cadet category, the coach focused more on the organization. For example, in the midfielders and their movements, where and win to pass the ball during any situation. We had to memorize positions and roles. We had to watch and learn from the senior players, and our coaches always wanted us to focus on cues, timing, and rhythm. The process is like someone bringing his experience, summarizing it, and sharing it with you.

Junior Category

To be precise, in this Interview with Simo Idrissi (myself) When I played in the Junior category, game management became harder because we had a different coach named Rachid Abziz. This coach was demanding and hard to please. He challenged us with undoable things, and we always tried to make them happen.

For example, I used to play only with my right foot, which is my comfort zone. Coach Abziz noticed I could control the ball with my left foot, but I never passed the ball with my left foot. So he put me on the left side of the field and forced me to use my left foot for short and long passes. They demolished such an impossible challenge in my head during that time through repetition. After a few days, I was comfortable using both feet. I have the confidence to use them in every official game. He also told us to follow the pattern and explained when we could use our creativity.

This period in this category was the most difficult experience because the coach challenged us above our level, and we had to do it at the right time. Any player captured by laziness would never make it to the game-day official roster.

Espoir Level

The Espoir level team was like a B team, but most players were under 23. The coaching staff would transfer any player nineteen years old or above to this team if they had the right skills. We played in the same way as the adults, and we played in front of the fans. The B Team’s official games were always played before the main game, and the audience would watch us until the senior team came in. In my first season, the head coach of the adult team called me to join the adult.

Interviewer: I have many more questions, but this interview should exceed 10 minutes of reading, but we are already over the time limitation. Thank you for all the notes you shared, and we will continue in the future discussing more about your experience.

Dear readers or listeners,
We present Simo Idrissi with all the credentials and long-term experience playing soccer in Morocco, Lebanon, and America. Hope you enjoyed the Diversity in American Soccer: An Interview with Simo Idrissi. With his valuable conversation and communication, he showed high intelligence and long life experience. We need people like this to help enhance soccer in America.

Contacting Simo Idrissi on LinkedIn

If you are a soccer club, a soccer club manager or recruiter, and would like to get in touch with Simo Idrissi, you can do so through LinkedIn. Simo Idrissi is a Head Soccer Coach with over 20 years of experience and a passion for the sport. He is committed to excellence and holds multiple coaching licenses and certifications. He has a Master’s degree in Sports Science and an Associate’s degree in Computer Science. Simo Idrissi leverages his knowledge and skills to enhance player performance, fitness, and wellness, foster a positive and ethical team culture, and empower players to reach their full potential and achieve shared objectives.

To contact Simo Idrissi on LinkedIn, you can visit his profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/simo-idrissi/ and send him a connection request or message. You can also follow his profile to stay updated on his latest activities and achievements. Don’t hesitate to reach out to him if you are interested in soccer in the United States or Canada!

An Interview with Simo Idrissi Conclusion 

Anyhow, back to soccer again. We used to play 60 minutes per game for six or seven games in a row during weekends. Sometimes we would play against the toughest neighborhood teams from other cities but we always bet on something. We had ten teams from different neighborhoods competing with us. We beat them all because most of us were training with the IZK club. However, I got home so tired and wouldn’t talk to anyone. I would take a cold shower and fall asleep. It was a lot of fun playing soccer with my friends.