Okpodu throws hat into the ring
UEFA certified coach Sam Okpodu has put himself in the shop window for Bermuda Football Association’s (BFA) vacant national coach position.
The ex-Nigerian women’s national coach has expressed an interest in the job and if given the chance feels he has the pedigree to transform Bermuda into a reckoning force within the Caribbean region.
“One thing I believe is that Bermuda is loaded with talent and with the right people and right support and everything else I don’t see why Bermuda can’t compete with the rest of the Caribbean Islands,” Okpodu told
The Royal Gazette. “I‘d like the opportunity to put Bermuda in among the leaders in the Caribbean.”
Media reports in Nigeria have linked the South Carolina Youth Soccer executive director with the BFA’s vacant national coaching job. However, Okpodu, who is a UEFA ‘A’ certified coach, said he hasn’t had any contact with the BFA since he unsuccessfully applied for the national coaching job nearly four-years ago, a claim backed up by local football’s governing body.
“Obviously this may have been an old story that is resurrecting itself, that’s probably what it is,” he said. “I applied for the head coach position but nothing materialised. Once I left the Island the discussion never continued and that’s about where we left it.
“I never knew this position was open. But knowing it now I’d absolutely like to coach Bermuda ... I would most definitely like to pursue it.”
The former Nigerian winger was invited to the Island by St George’s coach Richard Todd in 2008 to assist with the “Girls Play Too” football camp as well as conduct sessions with the national women’s team.
It was during his visit Okpodu got the opportunity to assess various aspects of the local game.
“When I was there everybody was very welcoming,” he recalled. “It was perhaps one of the most exciting times that I’ve had working with people who were really fascinated and interested and willing to learn.
Critics might argue that most of the Nigerian’s involvement in coaching has mostly been in the women’s arena. But he has demonstrated his versatility coaching men as well at the USL level in the US.
“It’s easy for people to come up with issues like that but I played the men’s game, not the women’s,” Okpodu stressed. “I am well astute for this game, was trained of this game and have trained coaches for the last 25 -years in the States.”
Earlier this week former West Ham striker Clyde Best backed Shaun Goater for the national coaching job, which has also drawn interest from Kyle Lightbourne.
The national coaching post became available after Devarr Boyles completed his stint as interim national coach following Bermuda’s exit from 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers last November.
It is hoped that Boyles’ successor will be installed prior to February 29, which is a date set aside by FIFA for international friendlies.
The BFA has sent out invitations to several regional rivals to play against the senior national team on the above date, among them Antigua and Barbuda who have confirmed that they have been approached by local football’s governing body.