May 1, 2020 - Silver Spring, MD - Maryland Bobcats FC are proud to announce the Maryland Bobcats FC Youth program. With a solid Men's program in place, the club is happy to expand and give the children of Montgomery, Prince George's, and Baltimore Counties in Maryland the kind of training, development, and structure that we believe will help create the next generation of not only soccer players, but community leaders.
The goal of the youth program is to create an environment where youth players can develop their skills on the field and learn important life values through playing the best game in the world. We want our players to have the opportunity to receive high quality training from excited and dedicated coaches in a professional atmosphere. President Jay Saba says that the youth program's aim is to "give children the ability to learn about the beautiful game regardless of their respective background".
The youth program is a natural expansion of what the club is hoping to do in the community and the next step in the overall goal of the club. Saba continued to say that "[we can] finally give our professional players and management a place where they can all feel comfortable and create a family environment where the children can learn about the game from them". There will be a top down approach with a lot of the Men's Team players and coaching staff will be coaching the youth players, giving them a hands-on experience with the First Team players as well as giving them a pipeline to higher levels of soccer.
One of those players that will be coaching is defender Oumar Ballo. Ballo has very strong Maryland ties, spending time at Community College of Baltimore County in 2011 and transferring to University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2012. Ballo was then selected in the second round (30th overall) in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Houston Dynamo and signed a professional contract with the club. He then signed on loan with United Soccer League side Charleston Battery in 2015 and trialed with D.C. United and in 2016, Ballo was signed by United Soccer League side Swope Park Rangers where he won a title.
Ballo said that the youth program's goal is to "give back to kids what we had growing up. To help each kid understand their potential and how far they can push themselves with the right set of skills and values". Ballo will be hands on with both the boys and girls training and looks forward to impacting players both on and off the field. "This is something we’ve all dreamed about for a long time. We're setting the groundwork for the next generation of ballers" Ballo continued.
Ballo's comments echoed the sentiments that many in the club shared - that they believe each child should have the opportunity to compete at their highest level and that the barometer of success and enjoyment comes when children and young adults develop into highly talented soccer players with a strong passion for the game as well as become leaders in their community. From the youngest player up through the First Team, players will interact with each other, learn the game, and have a path to the next level, wherever that is.
The staff acknowledges that launching a youth training program during a pandemic is difficult but believes they have a plan in place with the dedicated, excited people they need to pull it off. It will start out small, group training and a few teams, but the club hopes it continues to grow into a program where all the kids involved have a vision of playing at the next level.
First Team Head Coach Phil Nana is just as - if not more - excited to get the Youth program off the ground as to get back to First Team training. "Starting a youth program is something that we know is essential to the philosophy of our club. Not only do we want acquire the best players domestically and abroad but we want to build, mold, and develop young promising players as well. Starting our own youth program will give us that opportunity. Most importantly though, it will give us an opportunity to help grow and give back to the community of which we serve."
The training will kick off with informational sessions from all involved and will potentially involve some "meet and greet" sessions with some of the coaching staff and First Team players via Zoom as well. When the social distancing measures are relaxed (and when it is safe to congregate in groups), training will kick off outside.
For more information and to stay up to date on the latest Youth news, head to www.marylandbobactsfc.com/youth. Emails will go out with any updates on Q&A's, Meet and Greets, virtual sessions, or informational sessions. Once things begin to clear up, information will be given about on field sessions as well.
If you have any questions, reach out via the "Contact" page on the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.