Leadership team

Mustafa Dinani

Co-founder & Board of Governor

I am originally from a small town in Tanzania called Songea and lived in Dar for a portion of my younger days. I moved to North America in 2000, first to Toronto for college and later to the Northeast to work as an Actuary. I now live in New Jersey where I am joined by my mother, wife and two wonderful and energetic kids.

Soccer has always been at the heart of my life from a very young age. There is a lot that I am thankful to this game and Umoja has given many of us a great opportunity to give back to today and tomorrow’s generation. Being a founding member of Umoja, it has been amazing to see the power of soccer in building bridges across different communities. Umoja is still an infant and what is to come is exciting…

It is always impossible to pick one moment. I will instead pick the most recent one, which was a testimonial I received recently. This came from a Christian couple that adopted and is fostering a few kids from a refugee camp, Hazara Unaccompanied Refugee Minors. The father sent me a picture of his two kids plus others they found in Grand Rapids and met at Umoja Games 2017 after a very long time. They were previously together in a refugee shelter in Indonesia after being displaced from Afghanistan. When his two boys couldn’t assemble a team from Allentown, they sought and found some of their friends in Grand Rapids, Michican. They met after several years at Umoja Games 2017. The boys from Grand Rapids have found others with a similar path and formed their own team called Hazara Hurricanes and they will be making their debut at Umoja Games 2018. It is great to see through the beautiful and simple game of soccer, we can strengthen old bonds and form new ones.

Nayu Akbar

Co-founder & Board of Governor

Passionate about playing and coaching soccer for many decades, community building and in the spirit of integrating communities across the continent, it was an ideal fit for me to jump into the Umoja family vision when the idea to form soccer tournaments was first hatched in mere conference calls between a handful of players across the continent. Now, as a founding member of the board of governors from its inception in 2012, it has been nothing short of an exceptional journey – we had no clue that in a few short years the UGames and UAcademy would take off, and subsequent Ubranches would come into the fold. It is a great blessing and one that has been a humbling experience and exciting journey for our umoja team.

Each opportunity to engage is built with many special moments. At a personal level, playing and winning two Umoja Championships along side of my two sons is very gratifying at many levels. As a board member, undoubtedly, to witness the very breadth and scope of the impact that Umoja has had on players of all ages and gender, spectators across generations and our diverse communities small and large across North America is a heartwarming feeling – it can’t be underestimated the power of the most beautiful game can have on Community building experiences and forging unity. We are grateful to a fantastic umoja team and Almighty.

Kashif Shaikh

Co-founder & Board of Governor

Born in Pakistan, raised in Nairobi and Kampala, I moved to Chicago in pursuit of my education and graduated with a degree in Finance. Currently settled in Orlando, married with 2 kids.

My initial reason for joining was to simply play and help organize the 2013 tournament which was held in Orlando, however after seeing the success & growth of the games, the need to contribute beyond tournaments grew stronger. Alhamdulillah since then I have been a small part of an energetic team trying to unite communities, whilst also attempting to enhance and change the lives of our youth through our uAcademy, uMentor, uCare and uBrains programs.

Many a memory I have, but one that stands out are the kids in the academy program that so enthusiastically run on to the field, play passionately and leave giving high-fives and hugs to the coaches.

Yahya Remtulla

Board of Governor

Born in Saudi Arabia, I moved to Toronto with my parents and three siblings when I was 10. I graduated as a Systems Design Engineer from the University of Waterloo in 2012. I currently work at Deloitte as a Senior Business Technology Consultant.

I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5 and have always had a passion for the game. I’ve been playing in leagues ever since, but the unique experience my teammates and I had at the first Umoja Games in 2012 was something I’ll never forget. I wanted to be part of giving that same experience and opportunity to others, that’s why I decided to join the team.

It’s hard to pick one moment, but the U10 Boys Finals in New York stands out. The game went to a penalty shootout and then a sudden death within the shootout. The drama, suspense, and raw emotion of the participants reminded me that the tournament really creates an experience these kids will never forget. Furthermore, when I saw parents, grandparents, siblings, and community members form a massive circle around the penalty shootout, creating an atmosphere that was electric, it perfectly encapsulated the vision we’re trying to build: community and family unity through soccer, starting at the grassroots level.

Sharmin Panjvani

Executive Team

Born in Toronto, living in New York. (In case you hear me chanting We The North) I am formerly a PreK and K-5 teacher, currently a work at home mom of 2 girls and a boy.

I watch soccer only during the World Cup, and only the final. I joined Umoja as an Academy organizer, not as a soccer fan, but it has slowly won me over … I still don’t know the premier league players or most of the rules but I love the excitement and passion of the players at Academy and Umoja Games and the energy and passion they bring to the other facets of Umoja.


My favorite moment was when my daughter, then 7, won Best Upcoming Player at her first ever Umoja Games tournament. She had lost in the final to her sister, but this award was everything to her and I think it has earned soccer (and Umoja) a place in her heart

Natasha Khalfan

Executive Team

Born and raised in England, currently living in New York. Graduated with a degree in psychology and now a mom to 3 kids and various voluntary projects!

Having grown up in England, soccer has always been a huge part of my life. I wanted that for my children too and luckily they have taken to the game – both playing and watching. My first contact with Umoja was when I registered my oldest to play at the tournament in 2014. I was immediately taken with the concept and the efforts that were being made to bring community together and had always offered to help in any way I could. I received my calling when the NY Academy was launched, we brought our village together on Friday nights through the game of soccer! From then, I was introduced to a group of individuals who have made this possible and became part of the vision to grow and take Umoja Outreach Foundation to new heights.

There are so many moments that have given Umoja a big place in my heart but one that stands out is a testimonial that we received after a tournament whereby a parent explained to us that he was traveling to NY for work and his son insisted that he wanted to come so that he could visit the friends that he had made at UGames who resided in NY. This only emphasizes the power of soccer and beyond that will inshallah bring communities together and ensure our children to experience the brotherhood that we wish for them.

Mohammed Kumail Kassam

Executive Team

Born and raised in Africa, I completed my tertiary education and began my corporate career in Malaysia where I spent 12 years. Fate brought me to settle in Canada where I now live with my family. I am in the banking sector serving in fraud operations, and I also have a side business supplying eco-friendly products. I also oversee the finances of Umoja Outreach Foundation.


My favourite moment has been seeing those little kids bring out all their potential on the field when playing soccer while their parent watch and cherish those priceless moments.

Hasnainali Walli

Executive Team

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario (proper Toronto not the GTA). Did my undergrad in Engineering at Ryerson University. Currently work as a Design Engineer in Graphic Memory Technology at AMD Inc.

I’m not a die hard soccer fan, I don’t have my own team for which I bleed their colours but I do enjoy the game of soccer almost as much as I enjoy hockey. I joined Umoja first as a participant back in 2014 at Umoja Games 2014 in Allentown. The idea of the Games is what got me to get involved. From that moment, I’ve been involved as an Umoja Games organizer and every year no matter how hard the challenge is, seeing all the smiles and talking through everyone’s favourite moment, makes it all worth it.


My favourite moment at Umoja would be at the Games in 2016 in New York City. The uniqueness of the facility with having the famous New York skyline backdrop the games was really awesome.

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