– We play with groups that say Oslo. It’s so funny, Tor Thodesen smiles on the phone from Senegal.
Perhaps you remember him as the man behind Sandefjord’s promotion to Tippeligaen in 2005? Or as the coach behind the 1997 Valringa Gold Cup?
You may have heard the sound as well, Thodesen was an expert commentator for NRK for Norwegian football in 2008 and 2009.
The 56-year-old from Nøtterøy has enjoyed a long and fast career in Norwegian, Eastern European and UAE football.
The last stop in Norway was at Kvik Halden in 2021, but it is now clear what will be Thodesen’s next challenge.
He moved to Africa, specifically Dakar in Senegal, and he is the manager of the club called Oslo Football Academy Dakar.
The professional team plays in the second tier in Senegal, and not without reason is called Oslo.
– Of course, the goal is to sell players, it’s a bit of a name, Thodesen tells NRK, but he points out that there are several factors that make the team now cruising with Oslo on the set.
To explain Thodesen’s career direction, we have to turn the time back to 2006. This was the year most things went as they should for Thodesen. Sandefjord played at the highest level, and the promotion was recognized for the Coach of the Year award that same year.
It was also the year that Thodessen met Youssoufa Vall of Senegal. He is the man behind several Senegalese transfers for Norwegian football.
Thodesen Malik signed Mane of Fall. From there the ball began to roll.
The duo have been in contact for nearly ten years, and have spoken freely about Thodesen becoming coach of the Senegalese team.
It wasn’t until Val started his own club, dubbed the Oslo Football Academy in Dakar, that the idea became a reality.
And now Thodesen has signed a three-year contract with the appraisal one year later.
– Now it’s time, and it suits me well. It’s very exciting for me to get something completely different, says Thodesen, and after being in Asia and Eastern Europe, Africa has always been alluring.
It didn’t take him long to take on the job, he thinks it’s relatively safe due to his relationship with Fall and thinks it’s great that this opportunity now arises.
Then there is something endearing about the suits that show Oslo.
If we are to believe Thodesen, it is no coincidence that the team got this name.
– Val got the first bite with me, and saw the possibility of sending players to Scandinavia and Norway first, so they could sharpen them there before they went to Europe. Thodesen says it has proven effective.
Is the club’s goal to sell players?
– Obviously, it is very difficult to make money from football here, if you do not sell players. It is not like the European market in terms of sponsors or public support. Thodesen says selling players means the club can develop much faster than if you didn’t.
– But Val is very clear that he will be able to reinvest that money in construction and development. It’s a big club with a certain age difference. The main goal is to run a good club in Dakar, he says.
Challenges with French
Now Thodesen is looking forward to getting started. He has secured a private driver and interpreter and is looking forward to starting in his new position as a manager. From a mathematical point of view, he could not ask for more, but from a private point of view, it seems far-fetched.
This is also the reason why he required the evaluation to be carried out after one year.
I have to throw myself and get to know the other coaches, and try to build those relationships to make it happen. There are many challenges, not the least of which are linguistic.
The French are not there yet.
– I regret that I wasn’t more keen on French lessons in high school, so to speak. I have to try to get something out of it. I should try to get a bit of command language on the field, so I prefer using a translator during player conversations, he says.
Oslo Football Academy Dakar is still sixth in its first season in Senegal’s second division last year. This year’s season starts in just under two weeks.
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