In this edition of 'Quality Time' presented by GE Appliances, Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Ali Ahmed shares his favourite spots in Vancouver, his excitement for the future of Canadian soccer, and what it's like to have a few more Canadian men's national team members by his side.
That would definitely be a dream and definitely be one of my goals. To have a World Cup in your own country and to be a part of it is something you can’t take for granted and hopefully I’ll be there in 2026.
This year, you made your first start for the first team, scored your first professional goal, helped the team win the Canadian Championship and the Cascadia Cup, while also making your international debut for Canada. What do you attribute all that success to?
For me, I like to say a phrase, I think many of you have seen it from me. I always say ‘Alhamdulillah’, it translates to ‘all praise to God’. I think for me, I have to give everything for me. I have to attribute all the success to first to God, I feel like it's all from him. Then, I can shoutout my people, my family and everybody around me. I think the work and the patience has paid off. I don't think if I didn't put the work in and have the right amount of patience, I wouldn't be here so we'd have to give it to those three things.
Obviously, there’s a World Cup just around the corner that will be hosted here in North America. What would it mean for you to be a part of Canada’s roster for the tournament?
That would be very, very special. That would definitely be a dream and definitely be one of my goals. To have a World Cup in your own country and to be a part of it is something you can’t take for granted and hopefully I’ll be there in 2026.
What are your main goals for the future? Both with the ‘Caps and on a personal level.
First of all, I think everybody's seen how well we're doing. We’re going for that MLS Cup, we want to be playing until December. I think we got the team for it. I think that's the only goal right now as a team. Obviously, personally, I think just keep learning and keep getting better every day. Just keep on working, grinding and earning my spot.
What’s it like to have that Canadian comradery around the squad right now?
I think it's lovely to see. I think as a Canadian team you want to help as much Canadians as possible and I think adding Richie, Sam, and Junior is going to add to it. They’re three high quality players and humans. I think we can do a lot with the additions we got.
How have you found the transition from the MLS NEXT Pro level to the MLS level?
I feel like it's been smooth honestly, for me, but I would say MLS is a little more demanding for sure. It's definitely a little more demanding, but I think it's been a smooth transition for me. I think last year, I was lucky enough to have a lot of training with the first team and just kind of felt what it's like to be a first teamer and now, I would say it's made it easier to transition.
You have been in and around the football community for some time now, how have you seen the growth of the sport in the country over the last couple of years?
I think it's growing for sure. This past year, last year, to see Canada at a World Cup just as a nation, I'm not sure we were accustomed to that. Growing up, at least for me as a kid, we had to cheer for other other countries and now to have Canada it’s going to take it to another level.
Describe what it’s like to play at BC Place.
It's amazing, to call BC Place our home field, especially for me. Even though I grew up, born and raised in Toronto, me and my brother used to stay up for the 10:30 games in Toronto and watch the Whitecaps games during the Alphonso Davies era. And now, it's kind of crazy for me to call that my home. I think it's a very hard place to play for away teams. It’s a beautiful stadium. Love a game at BC Place.
Describe what it’s like to sing ‘Stand By Me’ with the fans after wins at BC Place.
I like that, It's something that connects the fans and the players. You have the fans and the guys [celebrate] a great night with a great win. Why not? You get to have some fun with the fans and connect.
Who’s been your best mentor during your career?
To be honest, I would say it's hard to just pick one. Obviously, there's many, many people that have been really integral to me being where I am right now. I think it's only right to give a big shout out to one of my youth coaches, he was probably one of my only youth coaches I had, his name is Brian Annin. He really took care of me and developed my game to the next level. He really took me under his arms and always gave rides to training and back. He always put in extra work just for me. Honestly, I don't know where I would be, I don't think I would be the player I am today if it wasn't for him. I probably wouldn't be here because he's the one who connected me to this club, so I think a big shout out goes to coach O'Brien and obviously, from my parents to my eldest sister, Sueraeya, down to my youngest siblings, they’ve been a big, major influence on my life and where I am today. Like I said, especially my parents and all my close family or close friends, they're very, very huge. If I wasn't surrounded with the same people I'm surrounded with today, I don't know where I would be to. I'm super thankful for, like I said, coach Brian, my parents, and my close friends, they know who they are. Also, got to also give a big shoutout to my my cousins here in Vancouver. My Auntie's been a big, big help in the club. Initially, when they brought me and they told me I had to have somewhere to stay, my aunt, her family and her kids opened it. They took me in with open arms, and they have been amazing. They’re still a big part of my life.
What’s your favourite moment of your career with the ‘Caps so far?
I have a couple. Obviously, winning the Canadian Championship is definitely out there. We play for trophies as players, anytime we can win a trophy with your team, it's a special feeling so that's up there and then I think making my first start in MLS against Montreal. I scored my first goal and then got an assist as well, so I think that's definitely a moment to remember for me.
What do you love most about Vancouver?
For a guy coming from Toronto, in a city that's pretty extreme, I'm a pretty laid back guy so I think Vancouver is a little less extreme. It’s more laid back and calm, and has less of that big city vibe.
Is there a favourite spot you have in the city? Could be a restaurant, park, shop or place.
Honestly, I don't think there's one specific spot. There's so many different things to do and that I like about Vancouver. I like the beaches, I really like Stanley Park, I like the seawall because I like the views. I’m a big views guy. Especially in the summertime, you out there and just appreciate everything [the city] has. All the mountains and the ocean. So there's a lot, there's not one I would say specific spot.
What is one thing you haven’t done yet in Vancouver but want to do soon?
The seaplane, I’d like to check that out. I’ve heard good things about it.
Who’s one celebrity you’d most like to meet?
LeBron James. Just to see how he carries himself, just pick his brain a little bit and learn a little one-two from the goat.
What’s your favourite movie?
“Training Day” and “Rush Hour”. Those two films were popping in the household so we used to run that back a couple of times in the crib growing up.
What is one thing outside of football you are really interested in?
I love to travel. Spending time with family and staying true to my faith. You know? Outside of football, I try to focus on those things.
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