Kabban's family lived in several places -- including the United States, where his father attended college -- before permanently immigrating to the San Diego area when Kabban was 9. For him, the social adjustment was particularly rough.
"I had all the wrong clothes on, and I got made fun of," he said. "They called me 'poor kid.' My self-esteem was really, really low."
That changed when he discovered American football, scoring a touchdown the first time he got the ball.
"Sports was the way I got confident, made friends and felt I was like other kids," he said. He went on to earn a football scholarship at Baker University, a small private school in Kansas where he studied foreign relations.
After graduating in 2008, Kabban planned to go to Egypt to get a graduate degree in refugee studies. But on a visit home that summer, he learned about the large influx of refugees that San Diego had experienced in recent years.
"I started thinking to myself, 'Why am I going halfway across the world to learn about refugees when they're all here in my own hometown?' " he said.
Instead of going to graduate school, Kabban got a job with Catholic Charities, helping refugees settle into their new lives. He was troubled to see so many children sitting at home, alienated, but he also noticed how they lit up when they saw a soccer ball.
One day, he brought a ball with him while making a home visit. As he approached the apartment complex, he heard a boy yell the Arabic word for ball. Kabban began kicking it around with him, and within minutes, 20 kids had joined the game. That moment gave Kabban the inspiration for YALLA's approach.
Although the organization is relatively new, YALLA has managed to get funding from local foundations and businesses. Everything -- tutoring, soccer and occasional field trips -- is provided at no cost, something the kids appreciate, as nearly all of them know that money is tight at home.
Kabban has also made it a priority to reach out to those who aren't refugees.
When refugees started arriving in the area, there was tension in schools between them, Latinos and African-Americans. To counteract this, Kabban started the Peacebuilders League, a soccer league open to everyone in the area.
"We wanted to bring them all together and start making a community," he said. "Now it looks like the World Cup here every Sunday."
Ultimately, Kabban hopes to build a "peace-building" charter school for refugees, immigrants and marginalized youth that would use soccer in a formal college prep program.
Kabban's commitment to the organization is so strong that for more than a year he has worked full-time without a salary, living off his savings. The kids at YALLA know he quit his job for them, and they're quick to acknowledge the huge difference he has made in their lives.
"I don't know the way (to) say thank you to Coach Mark," Yohana said. "They helped me to find friends, and they (taught) me how to speak English. ... Now, with YALLA and Coach Mark, it's a fun life."
Stories like that are what push Kabban to keep going.
"This country gave my family the chance to succeed," he said. "I want to help these kids do the same thing."
Want to get involved? Check out the YALLA website at www.yallasd.com and see how to help.