Oakland Roots Sign Eritrean-Born, Oakland-Raised Midfielder, Yohannes Harish

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(English Translation)

Like branches on a tree

We all grow in different directions

Yet our Roots remain as one

Oakland, Calif. (Mar 18, 2019) – The Oakland Roots have signed Oakland International High School graduate and former Holy Names University midfielder Yohannes Harish.

Yohannes, 25, was born in Eritrea and moved to Oakland at 14. He left Eritrea when he was 12, journeying to Kenya where he remained for two years while waiting to reunite with his mother in the United States; his mother left Eritrea to carve out a new life for her family when Yohannes was five. His mom moved to Saudi Arabia first, and then America in 2005. Now, he calls Oakland home, and gets a chance to represent the city on the soccer field with the Roots.

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“After two years of living in Kenya separated from my family, I was blessed to get a visa to come to the U.S. and reunite with my mom after 11 years of separation,” Yohannes said. “Looking to reunite with my mom while searching for a better opportunity and better life, I ended up landing in one of the most diverse and beautiful cities, Oakland. Ever since then I’ve been living in Oakland and have been enjoying my stay, and I’m honored to get this chance to represent my town.”

“Oakland is my home away from home. Ever since I moved here, I feel like I have been welcomed. Although it was difficult to adjust to the new environment and culture at the beginning, with the help of programs like Soccer Without Borders and the diverse communities Oakland has, I never felt like I didn’t belong,” he said. “Ever since I could remember, I have always strived and dreamt to play at the highest level possible. I feel beyond blessed to be part of the newest professional soccer team in a place I call home. I am thankful to the whole Roots organization for providing me with the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream.”

Harish played for Soccer Without Borders Oakland, while attending Oakland International High School. SWB Oakland serves more than 350 newcomer refugee, asylee and immigrant boys and girls in Oakland through year round programs and summer camps. Following high school, Yohannes went on to play locally for NCAA Division II Holy Names University (Oakland) for four years, where he was named captain for his junior and senior seasons. Since graduating from College, Yohannes has launched Golden Boot Academy as a co-founder. Golden Boot Academy is a community driven program for private, group and team training based in Oakland.

"I first crossed paths with Yohannes as a recruit for Holy Names University, which goes back several years to when he was still relatively new to life in the U.S. and Oakland,” said Club President Benno Nagel. “To witness the struggle that Yohannes had to overcome just to get to the U.S. and then to go on and excel in a university setting, earn his degree and now be successful as a local soccer coach, operating his own business, really shows what determination and perseverance he has. He provides yet another example to the young people of Oakland that positive strides can be made in life despite difficult environmental challenges, and that soccer or sport of any kind can facilitate that process significantly."     

Harish will wear No. 91. “This number is special to me because 1991 is the year Eritrea got its independence,” he said. “Also, the nine represents the nine different ethnicities in Eritrea, and the one represents the fact that I am part one of those ethnicities and the fact that we are one nation. In addition, the combination of those two numbers also makes up the day I was born, which is on the 19th of April.”

Name: Yohannes Harish

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 140 lbs.

Date of Birth: April 19, 1993

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

About Oakland Roots

More than just a club, more than just a game. Oakland Roots Sports Club seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the beautiful game of soccer as a force for social good. Whether on the pitch, in the stands or within the community, Oakland Roots will represent our one-of-a-kind city with passion, pride, and commitment to all things Oakland. Player by player. Supporter by supporter. Resident by resident. One day at a time. One game at a time. This is about Oakland first, always.