Todd committed to driving game forward
A part-time role requiring full-time commitment is how Richard Todd describes his all-encompassing position as National Academy director.
It's been 12 months since Todd's appointment to a post some might have considered a poisoned chalice in the wake of Bermuda Football Association's (BFA) substantial budget cuts.
After all, his predecessor Devarr Boyles had held the position on a full-time basis while having the support of another full-time member of staff, Ian Rawlins, who was made redundant when the BFA's Government grant was slashed to a meagre $400,000.
In essence, Todd is performing the role of both men; the only difference is he has half the hours to do both jobs.
“When I came on board I knew there would be challenges. There was a drastic reduction in terms of funding and staff members,” says Todd.
“We went from two full-time staff members, Devarr Boyles (youth director) and Ian Rawlins (programme developer coordinator), and condensed those positions into a part-time role.
“There's certainly had to be some sacrifices along the way. It's a part-time role but with full-time commitment needed to move the programme forward.”
Todd admits, especially initially, he ran the risk of spreading his time too thin, with every day a constant battle against the clock.
And since recently taking a teaching position at Saltus Grammar School, Todd's approach to his mountainous workload has had to become even more military-like in its precision.
“I'd say there are a lot mornings when I'm here at 5.30am or 6am, and some evenings I'm back at the office gone midnight. It has to be tempered, though; it has to be measured.
“In the early phase I would say it was 70 percent on the field and 30 percent in the office, but I think I've been able to scale that back now we have more coaches taking the lead with our programmes.”
It's been a case of evolution rather than revolution for Todd in terms of piecing together his new-look backroom staff.
But with Andrew Bascome now in charge of the Bermuda national team — a perhaps long-awaited appointment by the BFA — and Naquita Robinson named as the senior women's team first ever female coach, Todd has a support network he can rely on.
“It's important that the National Academy director is not the lead coach of every team,” says the former St George's boss. “It's really about being able to provide planning and organisation in terms of the direction of the Academy and development of the players.
“I was a lot more hands on when I first came in, when I essentially had to rebuild the coaching staff after four coaches (Scott Morton, Gary Darrell, Maurice Lowe and Boyles) had departed.
“We identified new coaches that we brought on board like Andrew Bascome, Don Vickers and Karl Roberts, and I think we're starting to see a common game-style throughout all of our teams.”
Arranging overseas trips for the BFA's Academy sides has been the biggest challenge facing Todd, so tight are the purse strings at Cedar Avenue.
In Todd's words, having an Academy without a regular diet of competitive games is a pointless exercise, and despite the BFA's financial constraints as many as six teams travelled abroad this summer thanks to parental supports and corporate donations.
For Todd, it's been the highlight of his tenure so far.
“We have a lot of players training at the National Academy and we're always asked the question, ‘what are the players training for?'
“In the absence of funding it's been difficult for us to get outgoing tours, but with the help of the parents and finding small corporate sponsors we have been able to offer travel to every group.
“I feel good about what we have been able to accomplish — six outgoing tours at a time when we don't really have any funding is quite significant. The key question is how do we continue this momentum?”
Continuing momentum is a recurring theme when talking to Todd.
As for maintaining his own drive and purpose — well, he puts it down to his passion for the game and the support of his family.
“There are two things that allow me to do the job: number one, the support of my wife who gets involved administratively with different tasks likes fundraising, which is a real blessing,” says Todd, who spent several years as Academy Director at Vestavia Hills Soccer Club in Alabama.
“The second thing is having a passion to want to move Bermuda football forward — it really is a labour of love.
“I do have experience of having roles outside of Bermuda. I know what I want to establish and know what needs to be done.”
Todd hopes his part-time position will become a full-time one in the not too distant future.
Either way, his commitment to the cause will remain unaltered.
“We have a lot coaches within the Academy who work on a volunteer basis as we're not at a point yet where we can pay anybody what we believe is fair compensation and value for their time.
“They are involved because of their love for the game and that's what will carry us forward.
“I think the BFA does have a plan and recognises the importance of having a full-time technical department and that's something I'm hoping we evolve into.
“But in the meantime we need to keep moving forward with our programme until those things come into place.”