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Soccer has always been an inspiration for many culture’s other creative facets. While you can simply be a fan – or rather an enthusiast – of the sport alone, it’s safe to say that The Beautiful Game can be easily tied into the likes of art, music, fashion, dance, lifestyle… the list goes on. For Umar Issa, it was the marriage of soccer and photography that has landed him where he is today, a professional in his field who has founded his own photography agency along with two of his best friends. Soccer can also be a sport and culture shared throughout a family, which is also a case-in-point with Issa, who shares his passion with his two sisters, all of which used to play as youngins leading up to their college days and thereafter. While worthy of a Player of the Week post, perhaps Umar has his sisters to thank for the win, as he openly admits that they’re better, still to this day! Read our interview with the man below where he tells us more about his connection to soccer, his photography career, who he deems as his The Association friendly rivals and more.

For our readers to get to know you a little better, how would you describe yourself in a sentence?
I’m really passionate about building bridges and connecting cultures through various creative mediums such as photography, broadcast journalism, and even soccer!

How did you first get into photography, and what does your day-to-day look like?
I first got into photography during college in the Bay Area. I launched a photography agency with two of my best friends (Milton Smith & Cesar Martinez) called Tailored Heritage, and our focus has always been documenting diverse perspectives and people in an authentic manner. We never saw people who looked like us positively portrayed in the media or online, so we decided to pick up cameras and document our own stories.

Seeing as you’re playing in The Association soccer league, what’s your relationship with Soccer?
I’ve been playing soccer since I was three years old here in LA. Both of my sisters (Imaan & Ameenah) were players back in the day and I’ve always tried to follow in their footsteps. They’re still better than me but thankfully we all made it to be able to play college soccer. Also, growing up, I always noticed how soccer connected people of all different cultures and ethnicities, and it’s something that has brought me even closer to the sport as I’ve gotten older.

Are you in it to win it, or are you more about having fun?
Ha, definitely in it to win it, but win or lose, I’ll always enjoy playing the game.

How has it been playing with the FourTwoFour team?
It’s been a really dope experience! FourTwoFour is a pioneer in streetwear and the fashion industry as a whole, so it’s been a blessing to be around that energy. We lost our captain/big brother Guillermo due to an injury, but hopefully he’ll be back for the playoffs. Our team is really strong though so we’ve been competing pretty well this season.

If you had to pick an arch nemesis team from The Association roster, which team would it be?
Man, I’d have to say Niky’s because they ran through this league without a loss. They have some crazy team chemistry and it shows in their “Goals Drawn” statistic. We had a close match against them and lost 6-5, so I think they’re the ones to beat right now.

Any last words as Player of the Week?
Thanks so much, it’s an honor!

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