Todd Van Ritchie loves football. He loves playing football, watching football, talking about football, dreaming about football…the list goes on.
For more than three decades, this football fanatic has spent every waking minute charging down grassy fields, fighting for just one more yard. And although Todd may have formally retired his jersey, he definitely hasn’t given up the sport.
Todd’s desire to still stay in the game led him to coaching. For four seasons, (2004-2007) Todd was an assistant coach of Queen Elizabeth High School’s football team. He was there through victorious games and moments of defeat alike – showing his support every step of the way.
“I feel it is important to give back to today’s youth so that they can have experiences growing up playing football just like I did,” says Todd, whose passion for the game and natural leadership abilities, mixed with his drive to share football with today’s youth, eventually led him to the role of president of Halifax Football. Since 2007, Todd has been dedicating his time to get youth actively involved in the sport that has given him so much.
Todd’s dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed. It earned him the International Federation of American Football Youth Coach of the Year Award in 2006. He was one of five worldwide recipients of the prestigious award which recognizes excellence in coaching on a global scale.
To add to his roster of achievements and responsibilities, Todd was a member of the Board of Directors of Football Nova Scotia (2004-2007) and is now employed as their Technical Director. He was also an assistant coach on two Nova Scotia Provincial U17 Teams and the head coach of the 2006 U16 Provincial Team. In the winter of 2006 he was the driving force in the creation of the Nova Scotia Varsity Football League, where he managed and coached the Halifax teams until 2009.
It’s working with Halifax Football that has allowed Todd to watch firsthand as young would-be football players learned the intricacies of the game. Halifax Football runs teams for youth on the Halifax Peninsula, the Chebucto Peninsula, Fairview, Clayton Park and Rockingham. Programs in youth tackle football for kids ages 7-15 in the fall, youth flag football for kids ages 7-17 and youth tackle football for kids ages 15-19 in the spring.
Despite having a variety of exciting programs to offer Halifax youth, Todd knew that in order to take Halifax Football to the next level, he would have to find additional funding.
“We relied on player fees to fund all expenses,” Todd explains. Todd made his case to the Support4Sport funding committee and was relieved to learn that he was among fellow football fans. Since 2007, Support4Sport funding has supported several Halifax Football initiatives.
“Each initiative was designed to increase our capacity to meet member needs and increase participation in youth football in Halifax,” says Todd.
Halifax Football received funding to promote and develop their youth football program for children under 10 in the Halifax area. These grants allowed them to create and promote their “Mite” and “Atom” age programs. Coupled with a grant for coaching development, increasing their ability to teach football and life skills to the young athletes, the association has truly been able to up their game thanks to this new support.
“Overall this [Support4Sport] funding has allowed us to grow from three teams in two age groups, to six teams in four age groups,” says Todd.
The members of Halifax Football are very happy with the progress that’s been made. But when all is said and done, for Todd Van Ritchie the money issues don’t really matter. It’s his love of the game that keeps him going. “Football is the ultimate team sport,” Todd proclaims. “There is a place for anyone on a football team regardless of size, speed and gender.”
It seems that after 14 years on the field, Todd has found his new place on the team, not as a football player, but as an advocate for making the game that much better.
For information on Halifax Football programs please go to www.halifaxfootball.com