Open Cup success was down to parental support, says Todd
Bermuda’s success at the Open Cup Tournament couldn’t have been achieved without the financial support of the players’ parents, National Academy director Richard Todd has revealed.
Todd and his coaching staff travelled to Alabama with two Academy select teams, Under-16 and Under-14s, to compete at the college showcase tournament, which featured more than 240 international and US sides.
Bermuda Football Association’s (BFA) Academy Under-16 team defeated Evansville Soccer Club 3-0 to win their division title, while the Under-14s reached the quarter-finals before losing on goal difference.
Todd plans to arrange more overseas trips but admits the BFA’s financial constraints make it difficult to do so unless the Academy players’ parents help cover the costs.
So tight are the BFA’s purse strings, they were recently forced to cancel the annual Clyde Best Invitational Youth Tournament for a third successive year.
“To try and get the guys games we are faced with financial challenges,” said Todd, who was appointed Academy director last summer. “We saw it this year with the Clyde Best Tournament — unless we’re fully funding teams they aren’t willing to travel over.
“The Association doesn’t have the money to pay for tours outside of FIFA qualifiers, so as part of a new initiative we put a sales pitch across to the parents in regards to the value (the tournament) had to their child. These trips not only get us games but we try to structure in an education aspect as well.”
During the trip to Alabama the Academy’s squad of 34 players were given an educational tour of Darlington School, Georgia where they met with the college’s soccer coaches.
Todd now hopes to organise similar visits for the Academy’s other age group teams.
“The trip was done without any cost directly to the BFA, and we’ve shown we can do outgoing tours by collaborating with the parents,” said Todd, who added that the BFA also received financial aid from the Argus Group to help fund the trip.
“Many of the parents took part in fundraising activities to help send the kids to Alabama and every dollar went to paying for the players’ travel expenses.
“For me it’s a template we can now look to follow with the other age groups throughout the year.
“We are also reaching out to corporate Bermuda because we don’t want to eliminate any kids purely because their parents can’t afford the costs.”
While building more overseas fixtures into the Academy’s calendar, Todd also wants to entice foreign teams to the Island.
“It was a good trip for me to get back in touch with some of the connections I have in that area; it’s certainly drummed up some interest for next year’s Clyde Best Tournament,” said Todd, a former Academy director of the Vestavia Hills Soccer Club in Birmingham, Alabama.
“We want to try and bring in some teams to the Island and I’ve been working with the (Open Cup) tournament director Scott Spencer who is now involved with Premier Soccer Services — a company which puts on major tournaments throughout the US.
“He was able to bring teams from Panama, Brazil, Mexico, Bermuda and Trinidad to the Open Cup, and hopefully that relationship can help us entice teams to Bermuda.”
On the pitch, Todd was encouraged by the performances of both teams at the Open Cup and believes it’s vital to create a winning mentality within the Academy.
“It was a good experience for the boys, they needed to go there and experience winning — winning is a habit,” Todd said.
“Our teams often come up a little bit short (when they travel) and are disappointed, so we thought it was important to develop a winning mentality within the group.
“Both teams were National Academy Select sides; we have a lot players based overseas in UK, Spain and the US who would have been eligible to participate had we been sending a full national team.”
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