Today we have the pleasure of featuring Amobi Okugo in the Sammy Spotlight!
Amobi has an appetite for sports, education and entrepreneurial ventures. He is a professional soccer player and founder of A Frugal Athlete! He turned professional after completing his first season at UCLA in 2009 and being named Pac-10 freshman of the year. Soon thereafter, the midfielder created A Frugal Athlete to increase financial prudence and literacy among professional and student athletes.
Amobi enjoys networking and connecting with like minded people and companies, so each can achieve their full potential. His ultimate goal is to start his own management consulting firm, with an emphasis on sports. His aim is to educate and guide the next generation of game changers.
Now it is a delight to have Amobi share his story!
Sam & Leslie: Please share with us a little about the young Amobi, growing up and your journey into soccer from a child to a professional?
Amobi: I’m a first generation Nigerian American born and raised in California. I’m the oldest of four siblings. I have 2 brothers and 1 sister. Growing up I played soccer and basketball until soccer took over. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play at a high level at a young age. I got invited to the u17 national team residency program. During my high school years, I spent two years there. That exposed me to the world. It gave me an appreciation for the opportunity I was given. It motivated me to work harder to ultimately accomplish my dream of playing soccer professionally. I received a full ride scholarship to play and attend UCLA. I went pro after my freshman year.
Sam: We have sort of a second degree connection through soccer. I served on the Board of Advisors at Bishop Mora Salesian High School here in Los Angeles. They have long tradition of soccer excellence. Recently, two of their players made it to the MLS, Luis Silva and Carlos Alvarez. You shared in a phone call that you competed against them. Is there anything you can share from that experience? For example, did you have an inclination at that time that either of them or yourself would make the professional ranks?
Amobi: Growing up, you never really expect to make it to the professional ranks. But you know which guys stand out and have a shot at taking their talents to the next level. I played for some top club teams in my youth. There, I faced Carlos Alvarez and Luis Silva a couple of times. They always stood out on the soccer field.
Sam: In high school I played baseball. I thought I loved the game. I had the good fortune to play with a classmate who made it to the MLB. The big lesson I learned from him was I did not love the game. It is not something he told me. It is something he demonstrated by the way he devoted himself to the game. His preparation, dedication and focus were beyond exemplary. Do you have any advice for young soccer players who dream about and aspire to make it as a professional?
Amobi: If you want to make it to the highest level than it’s going to take a lot of sacrifice. You have to be disciplined in your craft if you want to achieve the dreams and reach the goals you have set out for yourself. That means working when your friends may go hang out, focusing on your work so you’re eligible, working on your weaknesses to improve your game, etc.
“You have to be disciplined in your craft if you want to achieve the dreams and reach the goals you have set out for yourself.”
Sam & Leslie: You’re an excellent writer and storyteller. How did you develop your skills?
Amobi: Practice and more practice. I never was a great writer growing up but I knew that when it came to A Frugal Athlete the more I practiced the better I would get. Another way I’ve been able to develop is by reading. It gives me the opportunity to see how other authors and bloggers use different structures and styles of writing. That has been helpful. It has also increased my vocabulary. Another reason my storytelling has developed is because of the time I invest podcasting both as a host and interviewee. I get the advantage of two perspectives. That has sharpened my communication skills.
Sam & Leslie: What is your favorite form of communication?
Amobi: Verbal, face to face communication. Nothing gets lost in translation.
Sam & Leslie: What about personal finance. Share with us what ignited your interest in becoming a coach and champion of financial literacy?
Amobi: I’ve always been interested in business and finance. I became curious about role models in the sports space, specifically professional athletes who did positive things managing their money and leveraging their resources. Athletes such as Ryan Nece (NFL – Football), Junior Bridgeman (NBA – Basketball) and Kelvin Beachum (NFL – Football) to name a few. They were proactive in doing the right things to build stability in advance of their sports careers ending. Learning their stories combined with my natural interest in personal finance were the big inspirations leading me to become a coach and champion of financial literacy.
Sam & Leslie: This is a question we ask everyone, if you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be?
Amobi: The concept of compound interest. Helping children understand the concept of letting their money work for them over the long term is what I feel will have them building proper money habits.
Sam & Leslie: What is one of your favorite books on personal finance and what did you learn from it?
Amobi: One of my favorite personal finance books is “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” by Ramit Seth. I recently read it. It helped put a perspective on how much money we waste simply by not looking over the descriptions on our credit cards and other monetary payment systems. It is important to read descriptions and the fine print when purchasing products and services. This is especially true for athletes and artists who enter agreements with agents, advisors, financial managers, etc. It’s important to know what you want similarly to when you use a credit card product. It is prudent to understand all it entails and to think through the pros and cons.
Sam & Leslie: Please share with us your vision for your financial literacy enterprise and platform – A Frugal Athlete!
Amobi: A Frugal Athlete will be an ecosystem that combines athlete money stories with sound personal finance and career development advice in an engaging way. Think penny hoarder, players tribune, and business insider all in one
Sam & Leslie: What support to do you need to sustain and grow A Frugal Athlete’s mission and vision?
Amobi: Ideally the resources to build out our team so that we can continue to provide content at a consistent pace. Our team has done a great job building out the foundation but we feel we are ready to take it to the next level. Having the resources to have consistent writers, editor, etc would allow us to seek out potential sponsors for some of our media content and build out courses and workshops so we can get in front of more people mainly athletes
Learn More About Amobi Okugo
To discover more about Amobi, visit his website and read his blogs at: www.afrugalathlete.com