LEWISTON — On Monday, Longley Elementary School student Adanan Abdi, 11, was working with language facilitator Abdullahi Abdi, who also coaches soccer.
The two were all smiles about the Lewiston High School soccer team winning its second state championship Saturday, putting Lewiston on the map as a soccer powerhouse.
But the win did more than that, the older Abdi said. The win is a powerful educational motivator for young students.
Wearing a soccer shirt, young Abdi said he plans to become a Lewiston High School soccer player.
“I’m going to try my best not to fail any classes in school,” he said.
Fellow Longley student Abdi Ali, 9, is another who sees himself as a future Lewiston High School soccer player. He too has a plan.
“I will not fail my classes,” Ali said. “I will do my work, and stay focused.”
Most of the players on the championship team are from Lewiston’s Somali community. Many went to Longley, the older Abdi pointed out, including his son, No. 10. “They are examples that (the youngsters) can do what they did,” he said.
Students he works with are doing well in school, “because if they are failing there’s no way they can play soccer.”
Success in soccer helps students go to college, he added. A 2015 Sun Journal sports story about the first state championship win hangs over his desk. Abdi pointed to individual players in the newspaper photo now attending college on sports scholarships.
Inside the Birch Street Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services (MEIRS) center Monday afternoon, soccer players said the sport means everything to them.
“Soccer is life,” said Warsame Ali.
“I’ve wanted this (win) since I was a kid,” said fellow athlete Abdilahi Abdi. “Everybody’s happy.”
Community leader ZamZam Mohamud said when the soccer team won Saturday, “the village won. It means a lot to us, the community, and all of Lewiston-Auburn. It makes us all proud.”
MEIRS executive Abdikadir Negeye said because of the state win, “there will be a lot of parties. People will be organizing events.”
Lewiston is famous for its ice hockey championships, Negeye said. “Now it’s also becoming the home of soccer.”
Youth soccer leader Jama Mohamed, the father of five boys, said he hopes each of his sons play for Lewiston High and win more championships.
The win has brought the community together, he said. “I have seen a lot of people who are happy, positive. We used to have two Eids a year. Now adding championship, it’s adding another Eid. It’s very good.”
The state title “takes out the negativity for new Mainers,” he said. The win isn’t just for new Mainers, it’s for the whole community, black and white.
Kim Wettlaufer of the Lewiston Recreation Department agreed. “It glues the community together,” he said. “If you were at the game you’d see the outpouring of community. It was incredible. The same goes for the regular season games.”
Winning a second state championship shows that the 2015 championship wasn’t a fluke. “It’s a sign it’s going to continue,” Wettlaufer said. “And the team is young. A lot of kids are coming back.”
Members of the Lewiston High School Class A state champion soccer team stopped by Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services in Lewiston on Monday. From left are Abdilahi Abdi, Alinoor Deqow, Yusuf Mohamed, Muktar Ali and Warsame Ali. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Abdikadir Negeye said while Lewiston is famous for its ice hockey championships, “Now it’s also becoming the home of soccer.” (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Since the soccer win, “I have seen a lot of people who are happy, positive,” Jama Mohamed said. “We used to have two Eids a year. Now adding a championship, it’s adding another Eid. It’s very good.” (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)