2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Haji Muya
“We wanted to make sure people know their neighbor and know a little bit about their neighbor.”
After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Haji Muya says there was an increased fear of “the other” — people who didn’t look or sound what some considered “American.”
So he started a soccer league.
Muya is the founder of Pittsburgh Soccer in the Community League, which is meant for young adults ages 14 and up to create friendships on and off the field. It’s under the umbrella of Pittsburgh Soccer in the Community, a nonprofit that runs a free soccer program for Pittsburgh youth in under-served neighborhoods, which Muya participated in himself after arriving in the United States at age 13 as a Somali refugee.
“We wanted to bring Pittsburghers together with crosscultural, different ethnicities and backgrounds, so we started a league that everybody’s welcome to,” he says. “We wanted to make sure people know their neighbor and know a little bit about their neighbor.”
By day, Muya works as an independent filmmaker. A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with majors in filmmaking and video production, he has worked on projects filmed locally such as “Mindhunter” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”