Up Close with Khaled Hamami

Coach Hamami has been a stalwart on the touchlines for the Stoddert Nation for several years. A native of Yemen, Coach Hamami played his club football for Al-Wendeh Football Club in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

       1.Where and when did you first start playing soccer?

I started playing soccer at a very young age in Sana'a, Yemen.


        2.As a youth player, who did you admire (i.e. individual player, coach, club or National Team, etc.) and why?

Franz Beckenbauer was the player that I admired the most.  His elegance, composure, leadership qualities and smooth technical skills were a joy to watch.  I grew up watching him on tv and going out to the field trying to imitate his way of playing.


        3.Describe your memories as a child/teenager playing the game. Did you play for a high-profile club or youth national team? Were you able to travel overseas to compete?

The best memories I had was playing for my city team were I grew up idolizing players who played for the team. I dreamed of the day I would put on the same jersey and play with some of the players I admired. Fondest memory is when I was selected to play with the first team alongside many of these players in front of thousands of fans. This was the best day of my young soccer days.  I played for Al-Wehdeh Football Club in the capital Sana'a which was one of the top teams in Yemen. I was selected to play for the U16 and U17 youth national team. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to play overseas as I left the country right after high school.


      4.What brought you into coaching? Was there a particular person or life experience that you had that introduced you to coaching? 

I always loved the game and spent a lot of time around the sport.  So when my wife, Karen Kelser asked me to assist her with her teams, I enjoyed the experience of teaching young players how to play the game that I loved so much. And when the opportunity came along for me to take a team of my own and work with Karen permanently, I didn't hesitate to jump in and make coaching my full time career. Karen has had a tremendous influence in my coaching over the past years.


       5.Talk about your coaching philosophy. What do you want players and their parents to know about your teaching style? How do you measure progress in your players?

        My coaching philosophy is taking players who are eager to learn and provide them with the tools and environment that will facilitate their long term development.  I want players to develop solid skills and build strong foundation technically and tactically.

        I measure progress by the how well players are improving and developing their skills from week to week.  Winning is only one way of measuring success, but for young athlete, the focus is on player development.



        6.What are the most important ingredients for a successful team?

For a successful team, we need players that enjoy training and the process of improving. They need to be motivated, responsible and committed. Successful teams must have cohesion and strong sense of teamwork and positive attitude toward learning, competing and being a part of a larger group.


        7.When building a team, what is the first thing you look for?

When building a team, the first things to look for is passion, work rate and athleticism. Personality and athletic qualities are prerequisite, technical and tactical aspects of the game can be taught.


       8.Does a player come with motivation? Or is that something a coach can teach?

Players must have the desire to play and the willingness to learn, develop and improve.  Motivation is a crucial part of teaching the game. I believe we coaches must be positive role models and have the ability to influence players and be strong motivators.  So yes, a coach should be able to motivate players who love the game and want to become strong players.


        9.Looking back on your career, what event(s) gave you the most satisfaction?

For me as a coach of very young athletes starting their travel soccer experience, I get the most satisfaction from watching players grow to become strong, skillful, motivated athletes. And the best part is running into players years later and hearing how their youth soccer experience with us influenced their life both personally and athletically. This is quite rewarding.


      10.When not on the soccer pitch, what kinds of things do you enjoy/look forward to doing?

When I am not coaching, I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters whenever they're in town (both are away in college). I also love to cook and share good food with friends and family. I enjoy traveling and visiting new places.


       11.Is a coach born with leadership skills? Or can they be learned?

We are born with certain qualities that give us greater talent for coaching. And I believe that leadership is one of these qualities that we are born with.  Leadership qualities are enhanced through coaching.


       12.Can teams learn from losing?

Absolutely.  Losing could be a great motivator for players who strive for long term success.  Learning from mistakes is an important part of development. It's also important for personal growth.  As coaches, losing a game highlights the areas that we need to work on and develop in our players.


       13.What advice would you give to DC Stoddert players who aspire to play in college and beyond?

To develop every aspect of the game technically. Have the skills and tactical awareness to be able to play in various positions. Maintain a healthy life style, improve their athletic components and continue to learn and improve from the game. Watch professional games and study what top class athletes do to stay at the top of their game.


       14.Pick three adjectives that best describe you and your personality.

Positive, Patient, Loyal


       15.Do you have a coach that you consider a mentor? If so, how did you meet this person and how often do you talk with them about your coaching career?

Karen Kelser is my mentor.  She is my wife, friend and colleague. I met Karen 27 years ago while playing pick-up soccer with friends.  We then lost touch for couple years, then ran into each other again and became close friends. We eventually got married in 1991 and have two wonderful daughters together. Karen was coaching before I did, and she played a big part in me becoming a coach.  She had huge influence in my career and how I became a coach of youth players in the DC area, and particularly with Stoddert. As you may imagine, we talk soccer all the time.  It has been fun to work together.  Sharing stories and experiences at the dinner table is a great way to summarize our day.


       16.What brought you to DC Stoddert?

Karen started coaching for DC Stoddert and she was the person who brought me in. Her admiration of the club was a great motivator for me to join the club.


       17.What would you like to accomplish over the next few years with DC Stoddert?

I would like to see DC Stoddert become one of the top clubs in the area by developing high quality athletes and continue to build positive, competitive and enjoyable environment for athletes in the area to find a home that helps them reach their goals and achieve their dreams.


        18.Which professional players would you choose in your starting XI? Why?  

GK:         Manuel Neuer 

Defense:  Beckenbauer, Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos, Zanetti

Midfield:  Iniesta, De Rossi, Zidane

Forwards: Ronaldo, Messi, Baggio