Gold standard for coaches is Todd’s goal
Once viewed with a whiff of suspicion, the Bermuda Football Coaches Association has gradually mobilised a who's who of local football in its mission to educate and qualify all coaches to internationally recognised standards.
Since its creation in 2013, more than 120 local coaches have attained the Uefa C licence equivalent and a further 24 have achieved the B licence through courses delivered by the BFCA.
Such has been the growth of the BFCA during that time, Bermuda is now the only country where Uefa licences are offered outside of Europe.
Richard Todd, who succeeded Scott Morton as the BFCA president in November, is determined to keep the volunteer organisation on an upward trajectory by elevating the quality of coaching.
“We're doing some very important and valuable work in terms of coaching education,” Todd said. “Better coaches are going to prepare better young players, which will raise the level of our domestic game and in turn help improve our national game.”
Todd was not part of the BFCA before being voted in; he was, however, already a firm admirer of its work from his time as the Bermuda Football Association National Academy director.
With those two organisations now operating closely — the BFCA was voted in as a full member at the BFA Congress meeting this week — Todd is optimistic that between them they can help reverse what he perceives as “a decline of the local game”.
He said: “The relationship with the BFA is important. The BFCA is an independent organisation while the BFA is the sanctioning body of football, but we're working together to address the decline in the local game and improve standards.
“You have seen the growth between the two organisations and there's a level of trust that exists in terms of what they both want.
“It's hard for one organisation to do it all and we can work hand-in-hand together; I think it's a good model. Now you have a organisation solely focused on coaching education and development.
“My job is just to co-ordinate it all, pull it altogether, and make sure we're staying on track.”
With experienced coaches such as Morton, Dennis Brown, Andrew Bascome, Larry Smith and Maceo Dill, the BFCA vice-president, all now involved at an executive level, Todd is convinced there are signs of the tribalism that has long existed in Bermudian football slowly being eroded.
“We're seeing the best of our local coaches coming together and sharing ideas,” Todd said. “We went through a period and culture when everyone was really focused on ‘self'.
“Part of that is being from a small community where it's very competitive for the top jobs and people felt the need to protect the knowledge they had.
“What we're seeing now is those individuals more open to sharing and understanding that the game is bigger than any one individual.”
He added: “There was some resistance [to the BFCA] in the beginning. People think, ‘I don't want to be part of what they're doing'.
“But slowly they have seen the courses and seen what coaches are achieving, and you're now seeing the doors open. People want a piece of that.”
Todd is keen to stress he is merely building on the foundations laid by the BFCA's “founding fathers” — the likes of Morton, Derek Stapley, Richard and Robert Calderon, Henrik Schroder and Pepe Dill to name a few. He also hailed the continued contribution of Jacques Crevoisier, a BFCA affiliate and a Uefa technical instructor, who has been visiting Bermuda to oversee coaching courses for several years.
Crevoisier has been instrumental in bringing his good friend Gérard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager, to the island for a series of fundraising functions for the BFCA next month.
“Jacques has been an invaluable resource for the BFCA,” Todd added. “He has provided continuity spanning through much of the coaching education that has happened in Bermuda recently, through four organisations: the Bermuda Football Foundation, the Bermuda Football Association, the ABC Football School and now the BFCA.
“Henrik Schroder, Pepe Dill, Richard and Robert Calderon, the founding fathers if you like, haven't just put this thing into place and walked away. They're still there behind the scenes, helping us move forward, giving us guidance and connecting us with the community. They're very important to where we are today.”
Local coaches had been required to make several trips to Scotland to complete their badges, although the BFCA has managed to minimise those expenses by delivering parts of the courses on the island.
And with several Scottish coaches based in the United States also looking to earn their badges, Bermuda, partly because of its geography, is now permitted to host two of the three parts of the B course, further reducing the costs.
“Instead of our coaches having to pay to travel to Europe on three or four occasions to pursue a Uefa licence, we're now the only country where the Uefa licence is being offered outside of Europe,” said Todd, who will launch the next Uefa B licence this month and BFCA C licence, run under in March.
“Part of that is because of our relationship with Britain as we're seen as an extension; we're pretty unique.
“The Scottish FA is now hosting Scottish coaches living in the United States. There are 15 of them travelling to Bermuda to do the course alongside local candidates.
“It's also bringing valued sports tourism dollars into Bermuda, as well as developing contacts for players and teams coming in and out. There are many, many positives.”
With the BFA introducing a mandatory minimum coaching standard from August, youth coaches must possess at least a C licence, while coaches are required to have a B licence to work at the first-team level.
“We're going to start a recruitment drive to get the word out in conjunction with the BFA to help their affiliates make sure their coaches are meeting their standards,” Todd said. “I'd like to see every club send two coaches to our C licence courses.”
Todd revealed that the BFCA is planning to expand its programme of courses, including the Uefa A licence, an introductory BFCA C licence and a director of coaching course.
“I'm exploring a project in conjunction with the BFA, developing a director of coaching course,” he said.
“We need to place individuals in our clubs with the skill sets beyond the technical aspects; the ability to create, structure and manage programmes at the club level. Skill sets such as organisation, budgeting and facility development. It's an exciting project and I'm working with some outside partners, and I'm hoping to deliver in the course in three parts.
“Ultimately the goal of the BFCA is to make coaching a viable profession in Bermuda.”
Todd has been unable to sink his teeth into his new role with quite his customary gusto, with the 45-year-old still on the road to recovery after suffering a heart attack just days after being elected.
“I do have limitations in terms of my physical exertion level,” said the former North Village and St George's coach.
“But I'm still able to use the skill sets I have through the experience I have gained. Being able to work from home for periods of time is good for me.
“It's all part of my healing and recovery. Part of recovering is continuing to live.”
Todd, who also coaches Robin Hood under-13, has set no timeline on his return to the training pitch and admits he has had to learn to quell his passion for the game.
“I'm having to evolve and I understand that,” he said. I'm even controlling how many games I'm watching. I'm a passionate Manchester City fan, so right now I'm catching the score after the game. I'm going for long walks during that time!
“I'm eager to get back to work and this is not the end for me. I've certainly learnt I have to change my approach and temper my passion a little bit.
“I need a break from the field and I'm trying not to come back too fast, too early, because that's in my nature.
“Probably one my strongest attributes was my work ethic. It's also probably one of my weak points because I demand the same of those around me.
“I'm trying to find that balance and say, ‘It's OK, what you didn't get done today, there's always tomorrow'.”