Dom Oduro is considered by many as a cult-hero of Major League Soccer. He had an illustrious 14-year professional career with 12 of those playing for a total of 8 MLS teams. He was a part of arguably the best Montreal Impact side the league has seen, the same one that reached the CONCACAF Champions League Final against Copa América in 2015. Not bad for a kid from humble beginnings...
“Being a child from a third world country, having the opportunity to come play in the states was something huge for me, from there I was able to finish my education then head to the pros. I was able to play for 13 – 14 years in the league. Now I just want to give back to what the league gave me.”
The Ghanaian native spent the last season of his professional gear in the Queen City playing for the Charlotte Independence. He’s now returned as Charlotte FC’s newest U-14 coach for the Charlotte FC Academy.
“We are thrilled to have Dom joining our academy staff, said Charlotte FC Academy Director Bryan Scales. “After a long and impactful MLS career, we think he’ll be a great teacher, mentor and coach for all of our young players as they move along in their journey towards professional soccer.”
Paying it back to the league that gave him an opportunity for a better life is what drove Oduro to begin coaching.
“The league gave me life, so I’m trying to give it back to some other kids, I’m paying it forward. So, when the opportunity to come coach over here with the academy came up, that was it for me. It's all I wanted to do.”
He believes one of the principal elements of having a successful academy is providing an environment where young players can escape and have fun. As cliché as it may sound, it’s one of the things Oduro attributes to having a successful playing career.
“Liberty. That’s how I put it. When I am on the field, I’m free. I don’t know whatever the kids have it home, but when they come on the field, it’s time to enjoy. That's what I want to give to those kids.
“That hour and a half or two hours of practice of pure joy and fun because that was something I was lacking back home. Soccer to me was an out. I don’t know most of the kids, their lifestyles, I don’t know what is happening at home but I am hoping to offer the same thing that was offered to me to them. In any way, shape, or form that I can.
“Come to practice, respect your teammates, play as a team and then just have fun out there.”
Oduro is relishing being able to give kids the opportunity he received so many years ago – an escape to play the sport he loves at a competitive level.
“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life, pretty much when I was in the process of being done playing. A kid from Ghana, struggling in life, and I was able to find refuge in the American dream. Now I am just ready to give back as a coach to some of the kids out there.”