If FC Cincinnati were a club built to represent the city’s soccer renaissance, hiring Gerard Nijkamp serves as the first steps in the team’s on-field revolution.
Nijkamp will be Cincinnati’s new general manager and arrives having been the PEC Zwolle technical director since 2012. While there, he transformed a modest Eredivisie club into an eventual Dutch national champion in 2015. He developed a club philosophy – an identity – and implemented it successfully. The plan is for him to do the same with the Orange and Blue.
“Thank you for having me here,” Nijkamp said in his opening remarks as general manager. “I’m very happy and proud to be part of the FC Cincinnati family. I would like to thank Mr. Carl Lindner III and Jeff (Berding) for giving me this opportunity.
“I will put all my knowledge, experience and skills into building a successful club for this wonderful city. I’m looking forward to working together with our staff here at FC Cincinnati to create something special for the fans here in Cincinnati.”
Nijkamp is Dutch and arrived from The Netherlands late Wednesday night. Thursday morning, he visited the club’s downtown headquarters to meet the front office employees. Next he ventured to the Mercy Health Training Center in Milford to meet with the coaching and technical staff, in addition to the players.
“It was a very warm welcome,” he said with a smile. “I give you all my effort to this club to get this club to the next level.”
With the Dutchman assuming the club’s general manager responsibilities, Berding – who’s been FCC’s president and general manager since the club launched Aug. 12, 2015 – will now hold the role of president exclusively.
That’s the first major personnel alteration at the club. The second is the structure underneath Berding on the soccer side.
Whereas Berding previously referred to himself (as the GM), the head coach and Technical Director Luke Sassano as a “three-legged stool,” that’s changed. Moving forward, Nijkamp will oversee Sassano, the future head coach, Director of Sports Performance Gary Walker and Director of Player Development Larry Sunderland. Nijkamp will help hire FC Cincinnati’s future head coach.
As general manager, Nijkamp will oversee roster management, scouting, the youth academy and the sports performance and medical staffs.
“In the way I used to work with my former club, PEC Zwolle, at the end of the day, we know who is making the decisions. We know who is responsible and we don’t have to explain that,” he said. “But it’s about how to work together, to build together, so at the end of the day, we have something to be very proud of.”
Nijkamp will remain in Cincinnati through Sunday before returning to The Netherlands. Because PEC Zwolle filled his previous position and a new head coaching role, he’s assisting in the transition before complete focus on FC Cincinnati and the club’s inaugural season in MLS. He noted that he expected to be in Cincinnati full-time no later than August 1.
“We feel good about where we are,” Berding said. “We feel great about our future and we know we have the right person in Gerard Nijkamp leading the way on the soccer side.”