Apollo hires Somali soccer coach to replace Orionzi
Less than a month after the St. Cloud school board moved to make a change atop its state champion Apollo High School boys soccer team, the administration has hired a new coach.
On Thursday, the school district announced Abdikhani “Seyga” Omar Mohamed to replace Ganard Orionzi, whose contract was allowed to expire despite winning the school’s first boys soccer title last fall.
Mohamed played professional soccer for nine years, including when he was in Somalia against other African nations. He has coached the past eight years in Kenya and St. Cloud, where he arrived in 2009. He has worked mostly with Somali youth and travel soccer teams, including FC GarGaar-St. Cloud, Qaran and the St. Cloud Stars.
Orionzi, who is from Uganda, has worked at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University since 1998. He is now the schools’ director of environmental health and safety. He had coached at Apollo, including the boys and girls programs, for more than seven years and gained his highest acclaim for the team that won last year’s championship because it included a diverse group of student-athletes from many different cultures and a majority of Somali players.
Earlier this month, Orionzi said he had contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the Council on American-Islamic Relations to help investigate why he was let go.
The district on Thursday also named a girls head coach and a boys assistant coach, positions that also were open.
Mark Timpane, who has coached district junior high girls teams the past two years, will take over the girls high school program.
Samatur Nur has been hired as an assistant to Mohamed. Nur has coached youth soccer locally and worked for the district the past six years – most recently as a cultural navigator at Apollo.
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