BLOG: TOP 10 TIPS ON MOVING TO CANADA TO COACH
- Know the score about visas and work permits before you start applying for jobs
- Get your CV and your Linked in Profile in order so you look like a proper football professional
- Realise you are moving to a developing football country where ice hockey will always be king!
TOP 10 TIPS ON COMING TO CANADA AS A COACH
IAIN KING had a dream. Four years ago the former Head of Sport at the Scottish Sun, Scotland's top-selling newspaper, took his redundancy deal and decided to use his UEFA A Licence and his coaching experience to try to land a full-time job in football in Canada.
Since then - aided by his Sport Careers Agency CV - Iain has spent three and a half years with North Toronto Nitros where his last post was Competitive Program Manager. He then switched to the beautiful province of Nova Scotia in January 2021 when he was appointed Technical Director of leading Dartmouth club United DFC.
We asked Iain for his Top 10 tips on relocating to Canada to work full-time in ”soccer”!
1. Research the jobs market: Each Canadian province has its own ruling soccer organisation. Find their website, for instance www.ontariosoccer.net where the Employment tab is under About, look there every day and begin to tailor your search.
2. Learn about work permits and visas: If you are lucky a club will offer you a job and pledge to sponsor and sort out a work permit, if not you have to investigate www.cic.gc.ca the Canadian Government immigration site to discover how to seal your status. Canadian clubs are now very wary of recruiting anyone without the right to work in the country straight away.
3. Have a professional CV and a solid Linked-In profile: There are no better CVs on the market than those provided by Sport Careers Agency. I have had mine for over a decade now and it has helped me immeasurably in gaining a number of posts - including both jobs in Canada. North American clubs are also highly active on Linked In and you should ensure you have an up to date professional presence there also.
4. Reach out and network with established coaches: Organisations like the North American Scottish Coaches Association (NASCA) @ScottishCoaches on Twitter have a network of over 300 Scots living and coaching in the USA and Canada. There is also a North American Irish Coaches Association (NAICA) @nairishcoaches on Twitter who will always help with advice. Remember, the coaches on the ground will always know about vacancies before they hit the jobs boards.
5. Negotiate health benefits as part of your package: Health provision in Canada varies from province to province but it is hugely important you ask your hiring committee what package is on offer. Reputable clubs will have packages that are backed by the provincial soccer body. Depending on where you land these may be 50% or 100% covered by the club or somewhere in between. They generally cover medical, dental, physio and other services that will make your coaching life easier.
6. Have a savings nest egg: Chasing your dream of working full-time in football in North America will have hidden costs. From possibly hiring a lawyer to speed through work permits/visas to paying your first and last month's rent together when you get your apartment - and the security deposit often times. It mounts up, you need to plan for that.
7. Get mobile and quickly: You need to be able to drive in most big cities to give yourself a chance to get to practices and matches without the hell of taking coaching gear on buses/underground. Look into the area you are being employed in, do they have Zipcar or CommunAuto schemes you could use? Parents of players will always help you with transport in North America but that becomes a political minefield as you could be accused of favouring their kids. It can be tough to get a car loan right away without a Green Card in the USA or Permanent Residency in Canada.
8. Leave your ego at immigration: Your UEFA A Licence may help you get the job in North America but once you land you have to realise that it is your task to impress your employers and not the other way around. For instance, I was given a Canadian B Licence as equivalency for my coveted UEFA A. Throw yourself into the coaching pathway of your adopted homeland and gain some of THEIR qualifications. This will gain you far more respect than resting on the laurels of what you achieved in Europe.
9. Get your head around the fact that football is NOT king: In America they have NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball and in Canada ice hockey and the NHL is the undisputed top sport. It can be hard at first to realise you are in a developing football nation whether it is the USA or Canada. You will coach top level players who DON'T watch the game on TV. This is a fact of life, sometimes it is simply not in their culture. Again as coaches we have to adapt to where we are working.
10. Make time to enjoy where you live: Sometimes when we finally reach that Holy Grail of the full-time job in ”soccer” we can start working 60 hours a week to justify it. Always give your employer full value but also take time to savour where you are living. I have become a Toronto Raptors basketball fanatic in my time there - having never watched a game in my life before I landed. In Nova Scotia I have Thursday established as the no contact from the club day and in summer I clear the brain on hikes and beach days with my wife. Don't get caught up feeling guilty because you have your dream job - if you have overcome all the obstacles to land it you've earned it!