Dan Gish has found himself reminiscing recently about the 2015 Lewiston boys soccer team that won the school’s first state championship.

The reason, though, is anything but joyful.

Instead, Gish, Lewiston’s current head coach and an assistant on the 2015 team, can only think about one of the senior defenders on that squad, Zakariya Abdullahi, who is currently in a coma in Saudi Arabia.

Abdi Shariff of Lewiston High School runs with the Maine Principals’ Association trophy as the Blue Devils, including Zakariya Abdullahi (5), rush to the student section of the bleachers after they beat Scarborough 1-0 to win the Class A soccer state championship in Portland on Nov. 7, 2015. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Gish said that Abdullahi, who was on a religious trip with his mother and older brother Abdulkarim, was hit by a car a couple weeks ago while walking on the sidewalk. Gish, who has been in contact with Abdulkarim, said that both Abdulkarim and Zakariya were struck, “but Zak took the brunt of it,” and suffered a head injury.

A GoFundMe to help cover Abdullahi’s medical expenses has been set up by 2020 Lewiston graduate and boys soccer standout Bilal Hersi, who didn’t play on the high school team with Abdullahi but was around the Blue Devils program.

Hersi’s father, Abudullahi Abdi, who has been speaking with Zakariya Abdullahi’s father, told Gish that “the financial strain (of Abdullahi’s medical care) is going to be pretty hard.”

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The GoFundMe was created Friday morning, and by Saturday morning had raised more than $98,000.

Its purpose is to raise enough money to bring Zakariya Abdullahi back to the U.S. to receive extensive medical treatment on his injuries.

According to the GoFundMe, “The hospital said it will cost $100,000 to transport Zakariya from Saudi Arabia to the United States under critical condition in an Air Ambulance to keep him stable throughout his trip.”

Gish said that Abdullahi was living in Minnesota with his mother, but that he still kept in contact with one of his favorite former players.

“You know, I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but Zak, he was definitely one of mine,” Gish said. “As coaches, we used to call him Hollywood because he had such a great personality and communication skills. He’s probably one of the best defenders that ever came out of Lewiston, without question. Good leader, always positive, team player, always got guys fired up to play. You know, just a good person. He was caring.

“You know, there’s been a lot of praying going on, that’s for sure.”

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Gish said that Abdullahi is currently in critical condition.

“It’s sad,” Gish said. “The waiting game is the hardest part, you know, trying to find out information and seeing what happens.”

Gish said he has been going back and looking at old videos and photos of Abdullahi and the Lewiston teams he was on.

“We were like a family. And we follow up with the guys and still talk to them. It’s just a special thing,” Gish said. “You feel like it’s a son of yours. You’re a parent and you have no control, and you just hope for the best.”


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