Player Profile: Sonimi Halliday
PDX FC have been on the scene for three years now and are following through with their commitment to help players grow into their careers—earlier this year there were two players who moved into the professional ranks and just recently they have announced the addition of their former central defender, Sonimi Halliday, to the coaching staff. This is a big move for both the club and the former player who has made Portland his home after growing up in New Jersey and attending Rider University. The man was a presence on the pitch and we look forward to seeing his impact on the sideline.
Everyone loves an origin story—where does your relationship with soccer begin? Where are you from; where did you go to school? Do you have any siblings playing soccer?
I'm originally from New Jersey. Born and raised in Sicklerville. My mom is from Nigeria so growing up all of my siblings played soccer. I have a sister and two brothers. To be honest we always felt like it was just in our blood. It was the only sport my family really appreciated. I remember growing up watching highlights of guys like Jay-Jay Okocha and Kanu, and thinking what it would be like to be in their shoes. I also remember sitting on the sidelines of my brothers' high school games, as they played guys like Stephen King and Jamie Franks, filled with excitement and passion. My brothers will tell you that they taught me everything I know about soccer, and to be fair, that's a pretty honest statement. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without them. They inspire me every day.
Before you ended up at PDX FC, where did you play your soccer? You lined up as a central defender for Portland, right? But have you always played there, or have there been other positions you’ve played in or always wanted to play in? Are there any players after whom you’ve modeled your style of play; anybody you admire? What clubs do you follow?
Before PDX FC I played my college ball at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. During college I played a couple of summers with the Ocean City Nor'easters of the PDL. And after college, I played one season with the Philadelphia Fury, who are set to join the NISA this summer. I've always been a defensive player. At the college level you always have to be versatile; I spent most of my time as a center back and playing the #6. I can't say that I modeled my play at center back after anyone, but I definitely was influenced by the role Claude Makalele played in the midfield for Real Madrid and Chelsea. It's not the prettiest or most recognized job, but for me it's the most important.
This is a significant year for you, as you transition from player to coach; is this something you always saw for yourself or just a great new opportunity?
2019 is definitely a big year for me. I am very excited for the opportunity to be coming on staff with a club that takes such great pride in its city and establishes deep roots within its community. I think part of me always thought I'd venture out into the world of coaching eventually, but Portland has truly given me the opportunity to, not only venture out but, develop and grow as a coach.
Coaching at the lower league level is a great opportunity—but do you envision yourself taking this further? Or is the whole thing just day-to-day right now?
So, I take this journey day by day. I try not to get too caught up in the future picture, and simply enjoy the opportunities in front of me. With that being said, it is always exciting to hear the buzz around developing a system of soccer, here in North America, that supports promotion and relegation. A system that gives local clubs, such as PDX FC, the opportunity to grow and expand.