The highly anticipated decision regarding Southern Oregon University’s men’s soccer team coach has been announced: Biniam Afenegus won the job over two other hopefuls. He has been the head coach at Clark College in Vancouver Washington since 2007, where he won five region championships and one conference championship, along with finishing first or second in the conference for eight straight seasons.
Athletic Director Matt Sayre says Afenegus’ long tenure and record at Clark were predominant reasons for the hire, “He is obviously very knowledgeable of the game, but he was also very personable to our staff. We have faith in him to build a program from the ground up and become successful.”
The major challenge that comes with the forming of all new programs will be getting recruits to come here this late in the year. Many of the highly recruited players are most likely already committed and without a record of accolades established, coming to play for a new team may be a hard sell. But Afenegus seems ready to meet this challenge, “I like building teams and programs from scratch. It’s lots of work the first year, but also very exciting.”
Along with coaching at Clark, Afenegus has coached the Oregon Olympic Development Program and been on staff for the Region IV boys’ soccer program. Afenegus says the experience of coaching OODP should make it easier to land recruits. He knows a number of coaches and players from working with the development program that he says will help in the effort. Ultimately, Afenegus will recruit players on their integrity and character along with how well they play soccer, “We’re looking to bring athletes that will fit the mold that SOU stands for both academically and on the field as well.”
The new team is expected to be comprised of freshman and sophomore recruits as well as some players from the club team. SOU club player and team hopeful Jamal Abdoul says, “The team will likely be made up of players new to playing at the college level, and it will take a determined group of players to be successful.” He hopes to be one of them.
Afenegus, who won the job over candidates Daniel Balaguero and Gary Hamel, is currently recruiting and will begin at SOU in the fall.