Updated: Mar 30
March 23, 2021 (Silver Spring, MD) - Maryland Bobcats FC are excited to announce the hiring of Sam Okpodu as Head Coach for 2021. Okpodu will be the Head Coach of the First Team competing in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), with the first professional game in club history taking place on April 16, 2021. Okpodu brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the club and has an extensive resume from playing and coaching teams and players at the highest level.
“I believe that the Maryland Bobcats, as a young pro team, presents me with an opportunity to team up with a great organization looking to take professional soccer to the next level in the DMV area,” Okpodu said. “After a brief phone conversation with the President and Vice President, I immediately realized that Jide and Evan are serious about taking professional soccer to a higher level in Maryland. I am excited about this relationship. And I look forward to our collaborative goal of establishing a competitive club in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), and for youth soccer in Maryland.”
Maryland Bobcats FC Club President Jide Saba was excited to welcome Okpodu to the club: “Our goal as a club is to always bring in people that we believe can continue to grow the organization and move us in the right direction. From the moment we had a conversation with Sam we felt comfortable and excited. We are grateful that Sam decided to come on board and help us build to reach our future goals. From the entire Bobcats family we welcome him to our family!”
As a player, Okpodu has played a very high levels, including for the Nigerian National Team from 1979 - 1981, then playing in the US at North Carolina State University where he started 77 games during his career, was the ACC all-time leading Scorer with 193 points, made three NCAA postseason tournaments, started in the East/West All-Stars game in Tampa, won the ACC Player of the Year award in 1982, was a three-time All-American (1982, 1983, 1984), and was named to the All-ACC 50th Anniversary Soccer Team.
Okpodu, as a coach, has had years of experience at the highest levels, with his qualifications being extensive:
UEFA “A” License
USSF “B” License
NSCAA Advanced National Diploma
USSF National Youth License
United Soccer Coaches (FKA NSCAA) Coaching Instructor
His coaching resume speaks for itself, with Okpodu most notably managing the Nigerian Women’s National Team from 2002 to 2003, directing and managing all aspects of training Nigeria women’s soccer’s FIFA World Cup Program, developing and maintaining the technical and tactical training program for the Super Falcons and the U-19 Falconets, guiding the Nigeria Women’s National Team to their third African Women’s Soccer Championship in December 2002, led the qualification of the senior Women’s National Team to the 4th Women’s World Cup in the USA in 2003.
Okpodu has also coached at the Roanoke Riverdawgs, the US Olympic Development Program, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Delta United FC, and Newberry College. Okpodu was the Chairman for the NSCAA Black Soccer Coaches Committee and a Board Member of the NSCAA, and was the Executive Director for the SC Youth Soccer Association when South Carolina hosted the National Championship. He was most recently the Director of Coaches at Lee-Mt. Vernon Sports Club in Alexandria, VA.
“Bringing in someone with this kind of resume, experience, and knowledge is huge for the club,” Club Vice President Evan Raimist said. “Not only does Coach Okpodu obviously bring in the technical and soccer knowledge, but in our conversations, he really believes in the project and what we’re trying to build. That’s massive for the club - for us to bring in people who are excited and invested in what we’re trying to build. Sam ticks all those boxes and we are so excited to have him on board.”
On what he was most excited about, Okpodu said that “I am looking forward to sharing my professional experience with the coaching staff as we prepare our young Bobcats for major competition in the National Independent Soccer Association, as well as to play with purpose and rhythm. In addition, I am really excited to work with management to create a short and long term strategic plan for player development in the DMV.”
Okpodu has already started in his new role and will be leading the club when we kick off the Legends Cup in Chattanooga, Tennessee from April 12 through April 25.