Former Torquay United defender Chris Todd is back at Plainmoor as under-18s manager and relishing the opportunity to give something back to the club, writes Cameron Weldon.
Todd, 38, spent three years at the club from 2007 to 2010 and, having ended his playing days at Truro City in 2018, returned to South Devon last September.
Speaking exclusively to the Independent, Todd said he is enjoying being back: “It has been really beneficial to me. I have enjoyed doing the under-18s and working with the youth. A lot of the lads I know through the Pro Direct Academy so that is a natural progression. I have other lads from around the area that I have been working with and that has been really, really good.”
The former Exeter City and Swansea defender is also cherishing his work with Gary Johnson’s first team squad, adding: “I have enjoyed being around with the first team as well. I do it twice a week, a Tuesday and Thursday, helping out there as well as my job at South Devon College. It is perfect. I am getting experiences from lots of different angles. Working with youth, working with the first team, and trying to combine all of it together. I enjoy what I do. It is a club that obviously means a lot to me. I am in a really good place at the minute and I am just enjoying being back at the club.”
After spells at both Truro and Gloucester City, the Welshman revealed he had lost trust in the game at times.
“I never lost my love for the game but I lost trust in the game at times, regarding jobs I have previously had when promises have been broken. It leaves a little sour taste in your mouth.
“I went back to what I do at the Academy, and when the opportunity came up with Torquay, knowing I got the chance to work with the gaffer [Gary Johnson], someone who I have a lot of respect for, it was perfect for me to get back in the mix of it with a professional team. It was really beneficial to me and my development because I am still young. I have had a lot of experiences quite early on. It has been massive in relighting the fire in what I do.”
One of his young players, Josh Baxter, has recently joined struggling Southern League Division One South side Barnstaple Town on a dual registration until the end of the season and has made a positive start to life on the north coast.
“When I received the phone call, I thought at the time it would benefit Josh in his progress and his development. I took that to the gaffer and asked him his opinion and he was very understanding that if Josh wanted to do it then great as it would be good for him to play in competitive men’s football. We were all in agreement that it would be good for Josh to go out and test himself at a decent level and see how he does.”
Baxter is not the only one of Todd’s players who has had a taste of first team football this season.
Striker Olaf Koszela featured for Johnson’s Yellows in National League South last season and went on to spend a month on loan at title chasing Southern League Premier Division side Tiverton Town earlier this term.
“Olaf went out at the start of the season to Tiverton and did very well in the month or so he was there. He has returned and, in that time, he has been on the bench and featured once or twice in the first team.”