The importance of networking in the football industry at all levels cannot be underestimated.  

Whether it’s agents looking to do deals, journalists working on a lead or members of the board seeking out a new shirt sponsor, the knowledge of knowing somebody who can help you and your career is hugely significant.

The same can be said of coaches looking for new ways of working, ideas and methods. A coach with a wide and varied outlook on playing the game can then adapt to their surroundings, whether it’s on the training pitch or a live game situation.

For Terry Dunfield, the under-14 Head Academy Coach at Toronto FC, he’s been able to utilise the network of contacts he made during his playing career in England and North America, as well as those of Toronto and their owners Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE).

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Terry was a guest speaker at our recent Virtual Toronto Summit.

Speaking to UCFB as part of the Virtual Toronto Global Summit, the former Manchester City, Bury, Macclesfield and Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder described how his network has enabled him to gain ideas from people around the world, and that those in senior positions are more than willing to help those who ask.

Terry said: “What I’ve found at the top is that everyone is so open with their work and there’s nothing to hide. There’s not really a secret sauce; as long as your intentions are good they want to share their ideas.”

The former Canadian international has been to River Plate in Argentina, LAFC in the MLS and PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands to explore ideas with other coaches in leading leagues.

Explaining how, he said: “To get to River Plate I tapped on the shoulder of our head scout Jack Dodd, and I used the Toronto FC network to go down to Buenos Aires for three weeks and really push myself out of my comfort zone.”

Terry added: “The sporting director at LAFC was my roommate at the Whitecaps, John Thorrington. I gave him a call to open up a door to get into their academy and see what they were doing. That then led to an afternoon picking the mind of Bob Bradley [LAFC and former US national team coach].”

However, it’s away from the football pitch where Terry has learnt the most and in a completely different sport – basketball.

He added: “The most interesting study I’ve been doing is in house with the Raptors [Canada’s only NBA team and current NBA champions] and learning from their various departments. That’s been incredible; so many great nuggets. The principles of basketball and soccer are pretty interchangeable.”