Any vigilant FC Dallas fan would have noticed that a few weeks ago a couple of young FCD Homegrown products featured in a friendly match for an unknown Oklahoma team. Even keener FC Dallas fans would have noticed that our very own Ben Lyon attended the match and provided insight via Twitter.
But with that being said, the main question that remains on most FC Dallas fans’ minds is who did these homegrown players make a guest appearance for and what do they want?
To answer this question, I spoke with that team-under-question’s coach/owner Dustin Hooker.
Recently, Hooker, along with two other business partners, came together to accomplish a project. This project would be creating the OKC Fighting Imps. Hooker, a known soccer figure within the Norman, Oklahoma community, came up with the idea to create the team after noticing a lack of summer soccer opportunities for his former players that would return home from their recent college semester.
Hooker has coached both high school and club soccer year-round and has noticed this trend more often than not. Now that the Imps have come into fruition, Hooker can now offer his former players chances to continue their soccer careers following high school and club.
So how did FC Dallas get involved?
Through his time coaching for high school, club, and Oklahoma City Energy FC’s PDL team, Hooker has made a plethora of friends and connections. One main connection being FC Dallas’ famed coach Francisco Molina, a friendship that began with the OKC Pulse in the summer of 2015. For fans who don’t know, Molina is a huge influence for Homegrown or collegiate FC Dallas players. Together, Molina and Hooker came up with the idea of helping each other grow their players. The plan is simple, both coaches would have their teams play one another to gain experience. Hooker’s team will grow by playing against players who are contracted with professional soccer teams while Molina’s will grow by earning game time against new opposition. An eventual idea would be that FC Dallas would one day send collegiate players home from the summer to the Imps to gain more experience during the soccer season.
Surprise!!! FC Dallas will Feature 6 Professional Players in Tonights Match!!! pic.twitter.com/76oZDgR1Vf— Oklahoma City Imps (@ImpsOkc) June 9, 2017
But what soccer season do the Imps belong to?
As of now, the Imps belong to no league. The club bounces around the South playing random teams here and there. However, the OKC Fighting Imps will be playing their next season in the NPSL, a third tier North American soccer league.
Where does the name come from?
To fully understand who the Imps are, a fan most know where the name came from. An original name pitch was to name the club “Tribe” or something else to express the city’s Native American history in roots. However, due to recent name issues surrounding Native Americans, the club decided to avoid this decision. Instead, one of Hooker’s business partners, Adam Kay, who is from Bristol, England, proposed the name Imps. Hooker stated, “I didn’t even what an Imps was at that time…I found out that it was a ghoulish gargoyle creature.” He continued to mention how at the beginning of the Champions League season, Brendan Rodgers new Celtic FC team faced off against the St. Johnson County Imps, a small club from Gibraltar. In that match, the Imps pulled off an emphatic win that resulted in praise for the underdog side. With Hooker’s team being small and the underdogs, he and his team thought it’d be great to keep that idea; hence, the name Imps.
What are the club’s ambitions?
“Is our goal to win NPSL? Not really,” Hooker stated. “The goal is to develop players and have something for guys past high school to do.” Overall, the club just wants to emphasize youth, Oklahoma community, and nothing else.
The Oklahoma City Fighting Imps are an exciting project that every Southern soccer fan should begin keeping their eye on. With the club’s aspirations and plans for local growth, the team shares a strong image of community and unity. Add in the fact that this plan includes soccer and you have an amazing opportunity.
We here at Big D Soccer wish the Fighting Imps all the best with the future endeavors.
Fight on Imps!