SUMMER FUTSAL LEAGUE: JULY - AUGUST 2017  

TOP FUTSAL COACHES REACTION TO THE PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE IN THE UNITED STATES

By Jorge Pérez Jordan

(February 10, 2015) Futsal Focus contacted top coaches around the world to get their reaction to the development of the Professional Futsal League in America. We spoke to coaches such as Marcos Sorato (Last head coach to win the world cup with the Brazilian National team), José Luis Pérez Escrich (Levante CF-Dominicos, Spanish 1st Division), Sergio Gargelli (Former Vietnam national coach), Vic Hermans (Thailand National Coach) and many more.

Around the globe there is excitement about the launch of the US Professional Futsal League in the world of futsal. Coaches, players, executives, fans who are involved with and love futsal are excited to see how this development may impact the sport. However, one thing all have in common is that no matter where they were born or where they are coaching now, they all agree on one thing, that the United States deciding to launch Futsal at a professional level will do wonders for the growth of the game on a global scale.

Sito Rivera now coaching the Hungarian National team summarizes it well: “Great news for the growth of Futsal around the world, also at a professional and promotional level.” Paco Araujo former Costa Rica National coach and now working in Lebanon says: “The United States is a reference to the world in every sense and the development of futsal there is great news for our sport.” José Luis Pérez Escrich (Levante CF-Dominicos, Spanish 1st Division) believes the US Professional League will have a “resounding positive effect” for the promotion of futsal. “I hope to see something enticing, competitive and beautiful” adds Marcos Sorato the last World Champion as a coach with Brazil and now coaching in the Middle East.

The Brazilian coach also considers it's importance “When America decides to do something, it is always done to a very high standard, you simply have to look to the NBA or NHL to see that, and with people like Donnie Nelson of the NBA Dallas Mavericks and Michael Hitchcock with his experienced footballing background in the MLS involved in Futsal development in the States, I am sure they will do a great job of giving the game great exposure and attracting the needed media attention. How they will present the sport to the American public and the world is very exciting for me.”And he continues: “I'd bet when awareness and understanding of Futsal grows in the States, Americans are going to love it. It is in many aspects similar to basketball: scores can change at any time, speed, excitement, tactical variations...” Italian Sergio Gargelli former Vietnam national coach who is now coaching at Qatar Sport Club also expresses the same idea: “I think Futsal is more suitable than football for the US market. Americans love indoor sports more than Europeans, with breaks for advertisements, lots of goals and unpredictable endings, it suites their sports mindset and sporting culture.” Araujo agrees: “Futsal is a mix of basketball and soccer plus it is a shorter game which will interest many Americas.” Sito Rivera provides another point, “Americans are fond of statistics” (an important part of futsal), so this should help to establish our sport in the United States as well.”

Nevertheless, due to the US already having a number of established professional sports Araujo believes establishing the sport “won't be easy”. Vic Hermans (Thailand National Coach) expands on this thought: “When you have enough leagues in the U.S and can start a professional league it’s great but it will be the same that football experienced 15 years ago. This will not be an easy task.  Instead of West, East Leagues you could actually have 4 divisions breaking up the States and then have play-off finals in one of the participating cities. This is what I suggested in the 90s to Mr Friecker”. Another main point for Hermans is “they need to create their own identity but at the same time they need the support of the Football Association.”

Concerning the organization of the PFL, Sergio thinks “The league should follow the same system as the NBA, they should implement how the NBA organizes and promotes their sport. In my opinion it is a winning example, there is no need to go far from the NBA style. Looking at the press release of the PFL on Futsal Focus, Donnie Nelson Dallas Mavericks General Manager will provide the required NBA experience to the US PFL League.” Sergio advises “Stay far from coaches who concern themselves more on the result than the show, at this stage of the leagues development, entertainment is vital to attract an audience.” The Italian also thinks “promotion is fundamental to attract players, fans and sponsors in order to create a solid base to develop the professional league”. Hermans agrees: “they need a very good management team and sponsors to succeed”. Escrich gives his imput, that a good amount of financial resources will be vital: “If it is well promoted I think Futsal in the US will be very successful.”

Coaches all around the world also believe that one of the keys to conquering the American market is to introduce futsal in the U.S not only at a Professional League level but at all levels, from school to colleges. Rivera advises: “Above all, U.S. futsal should not forget to continue working to strengthen their foundations such as youth clubs, schools, amateur clubs, colleges and semi-pro and most importantly train coaches to the required levels, if this is all done properly then the marketing and organization of Futsal in the States will be first class”.  David Madrid former coach of Caja Segovia and now in Hungary re-enforces these points: “A strong foundation includes good educational development.”

According to Madrid, “seek advice from the best, copy good examples from the Spanish and Brazilian pro leagues and give futsal its distinct touch that converts the sport into a great spectacle. And get rid of selfish people who only care about personal gain and profit putting their own ego, needs and aspirations ahead of the sport and who take from those who work hard to see this sport develop.” Araujo thinks it will require “professional futsal coaches and executives who understand this sport and love it, this will help the organization and promotion of Futsal in the U.S”. Escrich goes on the same way: “The operational culture will be different but should be supported by people from other countries which would make a fantastic mix.” This is one of the reasons why he thinks there will be futsal professionals from abroad working in U.S Futsal in the near future, because futsal is a sport firmly established in countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Iran, Russia, Brazil with many individuals who have been involved in some cases from the early stages of development right through to the sport reaching the professional level and their experiences should be heard: “I am sure we will see Spaniards there contributing with their experience.”, he says. The development of futsal as a sport can be an asset to other American sports for Madrid: “Sports can learn many things from futsal: tactics, training methods and training players to be able to make calculated or instinctive decisions on the court.”

Everyone in the Futsal world want to see the US Professional Futsal League be successful, furthermore it is great to see that Futsal Focus is a strategic partner of the league, the news and promotional company is doing great work to promote Futsal and I would like to see more people in the Futsal industry supporting the growth of Futsal Focus as well!!!

PROFESSIONAL FUTSAL LEAGUE READY TO LAUNCH

Professional Futsal League ready to launch throughout the United States in 2016 Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson & U.S. Futsal men’s national team coach Keith Tozer spearhead the PFL.
 

FRISCO TX (January 13, 2015) Futsal is a game of the people and a sport of the future. Whether played in a basketball gym in Brazil, at a country club in Italy, atop a refurbished tennis court in Germany or in a park in Mexico, futsal is the world’s game. From a sold-out arena in Barcelona to 56,483 passionate fans at Brasilia's Estadio Mane Garrincha, the game of futsal thrives around the globe.

A five-a-side derivative of soccer, futsal now has a professional home in the United States with the newly formed Professional Futsal League (PFL) set to begin play in November 2016.

Futsal is played on a hard court, with out-of-bounds lines rather than the walls associated with American indoor soccer. A weighted ball reduces bounce to produce a vibrant, deft style that highlights individual flair and controlled passing.

Prominent NBA executive Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, sits at the forefront of the PFL as its leading investor.

“Futsal is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet,” Nelson said. “Born on an international basketball court it is a natural fit for me. Its high octane, action-packed nature makes it popular with young fans, sponsors and prospective owners. It is not only endorsed by the greatest players in the world but by FIFA itself. I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of the PFL.”

U.S. futsal national team coach Keith Tozer brings his wealth of knowledge to his role as PFL commissioner. Tozer’s 17-year tenure includes winning two CONCACAF gold medals, five CONCACAF championship appearances, two futsal World Cup appearances and a spot in the 1997 Pan American games.

An icon of professional indoor soccer coaching, Tozer has won more than 700 games in the MISL including nine regular season championships and six MISL league championships. A nine-time MISL coach of the year, his regular season and playoff victories rank as the most in American indoor soccer history. Tozer serves as the technical director of U.S. Youth Futsal and is only one of two FIFA futsal instructors in the nation.

 “Futsal’s growth in the North America as well as internationally has made the game of futsal the fastest growing sport in the world in the last several years,” Tozer said. “The PFL leadership team is comprised of prominent sports and business professionals and each bring specialized tools required to build a successful league.

 “We feel that the timing to create a pro futsal league here in the U.S. and North America is now as the PFL will be committed to provide owners, sponsors and fans the highest quality product. I am excited about being the league’s first commissioner and I look forward to building a successful business as well as an exciting new sports league in North America.”

Michael Hitchcock, managing partner of Playbook Management International, serves as the league’s president. Hitchcock’s 20-year soccer career includes serving as commissioner of the National Premier Soccer League, vice president of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, president Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas and president of NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions. PMI, a Texas based sports management company, will manage the day-to-day league operations with commissioner Tozer.

 “It's incredible to witness the growth of futsal in the last couple of years and we believe the time is perfect to launch Professional Futsal League in the United States,” Hitchcock said. “We have a dynamic management group for the PFL, led by one of the world's futsal leaders Keith Tozer and successful sports team owner and Dallas Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson, myself and other successful business leaders.”

In addition, Brian Dick, CEO/president and co-founder of Quest Resource Holding Corporation, joined the initial group of lead investors. Under his supervision, Quest Resource Management Group, an environmental recycling company, has grown to more than $185 million in annual sales since its start in 2007.

Global soccer supplier Mitre designed the official PFL match ball as the league’s first corporate partner. Mitre will be the official ball sponsor of the PFL in a multi-year agreement according to Mitre-USA Executive Vice-President Todd Hurst.

“Mitre is proud to produce the official ball for the Professional Futsal League,” Hurst said. “As the world’s oldest sports brand, Mitre has been a part of the growth of soccer for over the last 200 years worldwide and wish to continue this in the USA with our sponsorship of Professional Futsal. Focusing exclusively on soccer and futsal, Mitre is happy to partner with the PFL who is committed to the enjoyment and advancement of the sport as we are.”

Team commitments have already been secured from existing sports entities with the first club, already a global international sports brand, to be announced within a month.

With PFL play less than two years away, the league will sponsor its first international tournament in March 2015 with details to be announced soon.

PFL will have a booth at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Philadelphia, which runs Wednesday (Jan. 14) through Sunday (Jan. 18). Fans and coaches attending the NSCAA convention are encouraged to stop by booth 470 to meet commissioner Tozer and learn more about PFL.

More information will be posted at the league’s website, www.professionalfutsal.com with media inquires directed to communications@professionalfutsal.com.

About Donnie Nelson - Donnie Nelson played a vital role in the Mavericks’ rise to one of the NBA’s most respected organizations. Nelson built the club that captured the 2011 NBA title, the first in Mavericks history. During his 29 years in the NBA Nelson’s accomplishments include the signing of star players Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. In addition, he broke down international barriers by signing the first NBA players from both China (Wang ZhiZhi) and the Soviet Union (Sarunas Marciulionis). His international pedigree includes roles with the Lithuanian and Chinese national teams.

About Keith Tozer - Tozer was the first player drafted in the MISL in 1978 for the Cincinnati Kids. He began his coaching career in 1984 as a player coach for the Louisville Thunder of the American Indoor Soccer Association. Along with his coaching duties, Tozer served as Senior Vice President of team operations and chaired the MISL Competition Committee. In Milwaukee, Tozer created one of the largest and most successful summer soccer camps programs in the U.S.

About Michael Hitchcock - Michael Hitchcock founded PMI in 2009 after a 12-year career in Major League Soccer where he started as an entry-level sales rep and rose to become President and General Manager of FC Dallas. Hitchcock won the MLS Sales Director of the Year 4 times, his sales team won MLS Sales Team of the Year 5 times and he was recognized as the Commissioner’s New Business Leadership Award winner. PMI built and managed the San Antonio Scorpions of the 2nd division NASL and managed the business operations of the NPSL before launching its own club in Fort Worth, Texas. PMI also owns a significant stake in the English professional club Alfreton Town FC.

About Mitre - Established in England in 1817, Mitre is recognized as the world's oldest manufacturer of soccer balls. Now leading the way internationally in the manufacture of balls, boots, and accessories for soccer and rugby, Mitre continues to push the boundaries of sporting technology. Mitre is associated with some of the biggest names and brands in the beautiful game. Internationally, Mitre sponsors The English Football League, the Scottish Premier League, and the Football Association of Wales. Mitre is the official ball of the Capital One Cup in England as well as the National Premier Soccer League in the United States.

EMBRACING FUTSAL CAN HELP ENGLAND PRODUCE A CRISTIANO RONALDO OR LIONEL MESSI

by Stan Collymore

CHINA (November 21, 2013)  Last week I was out in China on a legends tour with the likes of Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and Marcel Desailly, and we got to play futsal in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.

If you've never seen futsal, it's a five-aside take on football played with a heavier, smaller ball—a size four—and on a harder surface. The goals are square and there's a big emphasis on finding space, turning a trick and rolling your foot over the ball.

If the ball goes out, you have four seconds to pass it back in. If the keeper passes to you, you can't pass it back to him. The ball moves around very quickly, but the weight of it (it's 30 percent heavier than a size five and feels a bit like a small medicine ball) means you can't make it fly if you put your instep through it.

I think it's the way forward for English football. It's not about how strong or how fast you are; it's about manipulating the ball and developing your technique in possession. If the FA really pushed it to kids, as part of their development, we'd see huge benefits.

It makes you understand what football is really about. If you added it to the core activities given to English youngsters, you'd see an improvement in ability, and it would give us a better chance of developing players to rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the future.

It's the perfect sport for a nation that wants to develop its skill levels. We played the Chinese national team and there were skills and tricks coming from every player—Cruyff turns, clever toe-pokes and instinctive moves to make space for a pass.

Michel Salgado was with us in China and he was brilliant at futsal. Turns out they play it a lot in Spain as kids. It's also big in Brazil—with players like Chelsea's Oscar and Philippe Countinho of Liverpool demonstrating the technical benefits of playing a lot of futsal in their youth.

Asia is already embracing it in a big way. China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia are pushing futsal to kids and they'll see the results. I recommend we do the same in England.

As a kid, I remember bigger balls were banned on the playground at my school, which forced us to play with a tennis ball. The benefit was obvious—we were learning to control and move with a much smaller ball, and your technique can only improve from doing that.

Futsal delivers the same outcome. I'm not saying scrap the 11-aside and five-aside games kids already play in England; I'm saying add futsal to the curriculum and we'll hopefully see a greater development of skillful, intelligent footballers.

All the emphasis is on how big you are, how fast you are and how strong you are in England. Skill is a factor, but it's about fifth in the list of importance from where I see things. We need to change that if England are ever going to develop a player in the mould of Messi or Ronaldo.

Futsal alone is not the answer, but it's part of the answer. Let's get it on the agenda in England, and let's start teaching kids the right way, before we waste another generation of talent through misguided coaching.

CLAUDIO REYNA'S U.S. SOCCER VISION

By Arch Bell

FRISCO TX (April 16, 2012)
- Reyna is busy. Running just a tad late, he scurries across the lobby of a Frisco, Texas, hotel and outstretches his hand to say hello. He'd been stuck on a call he had to take before yet another lunch meeting.


Welcome to Reyna's world, an endless stream of phone calls and meetings because as the youth technical director for U.S. Soccer -- a role in which he oversees its 78 development academies plus all youth national teams -- Reyna wants to make sure that everyone is getting the message.

"We need to make changes," Reyna said. "We need to improve as a nation and we need everyone to be developing in the same way."

That sentiment came from Reyna before the U.S. U-23's failure to qualify for the London Olympics. In light of what happened to Caleb Porter's squad against Canada and El Salvador, it rings even more true today. Simply put, if the U.S. wants to ensure that future embarrassments are prevented, a technical overhaul is needed and Reyna is the man leading that charge.

"I think the winning aspect is what has caused some really ugly youth soccer," Reyna said. "Now we're trying to play more out of the back and through the midfield. When I grew up, you played a lot of games but there was less training. The training has to be better and there has to be more of it."

There are plenty of cautionary tales that speak to Reyna's point. For example, Jamie Watson did plenty of winning as a young player. Growing up in the Dallas area, he was usually the best player on the field and earned himself a spot on the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2003 U-17 World Cup. Interest in Watson soon cropped up from PSV Eindhoven, but ultimately his lack of technique crippled his chances of joining the Dutch side.

"It wasn't until I was playing with the U-17s that I learned how to keep possession," said Watson, who currently plays for Orlando City SC in USL Pro. "I didn't know anything about working the ball. Kids should be learning that at age 10, not at 16. Claudio is fixing a problem that's been overlooked for the longest time. It will be great for these kids because it will become the new normal."

With senior national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's full backing, Reyna is spearheading a new mandate in the coaching curriculum for youth clubs that emphasizes development over winning. The Development Academies are required to adhere to this standard. Should they fail to do so, they risk losing their affiliation with U.S. Soccer.

The change has understandably come with headaches, as some youth club owners have pushed back, but overall Reyna's gospel is getting across.

"Only 40 of our 5,000 players are on our U-16 and U-18 USSF DA rosters," said Rod Favaron, president of Lonestar Soccer Club in Austin, Texas. "That's less than 1 percent of the kids in the club, but the other 99 percent will also get the benefit of consistent and high-quality training using the USSF model. It's too soon to measure the business impact, but I can tell you our parent/player satisfaction is higher after we standardized."

This new curriculum for clubs and academies is also welcomed by many U.S. soccer fans and may soon address the criticism that U.S. players are too robotic on the field. Reyna understands that in addition to the advanced training, there remains an importance in the sandlot-style game in which kids can experiment, much like Clint Dempsey did as a youth playing against Latino kids on the dusty streets of Nacogdoches, Texas.

Another example is futsal, otherwise known as indoor soccer. Played extensively in soccer-rich countries across South America or Europe, futsal provides an organic outlet for young players to learn some of the basic skills on their own without the overbearing reach of parents.

"I think kids should be doing pickup or futsal all the time," Reyna said. "I think it's very important for technique. In Argentina, futsal is what kids play growing up. They get very comfortable in small spaces with the ball. It's usually less pressure, so they can try things."

This massive undertaking is a passion for the man known as "Captain America," who wore the badge 111 times. Yes, Reyna wants to see the development academies succeed and youth national teams win matches, but the end game is that the countless hours of training put in by coaches and players at all levels should be done with a single goal in mind.

"For any coach or player, the most important team in this country is the national team," Reyna said. "We're not used to that thinking. The national team represents our country in the sport of soccer. That's the attitude nations have around the world. If we have everybody thinking that way, it'll be better for everyone."

Whether Reyna's vision of 11 technically gifted U.S. players in a World Cup match is fulfilled or not remains to be seen. But one thing for sure is that youth soccer in this country will never be the same.

FROM FLAMENGO TO FUTSAL: INSIGHTS FROM BRAZIL'S BEAUTIFUL GAME

By Mike Singleton

BRAZIL (April 3, 2012)
- Spending soccer time in other countries is always an education in itself. Whether it has been England, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Mexico, or Brazil there are things I learn that always contributes to my continued education about this beautiful game.


Taking such nuggets from these countries and acculturating them to our country can be challenging but is a task that is always needed as we are a melting pot country and our beautiful game is very much a melting pot as well.

I write this as I sit at the airport in Brazil after nine days of practicing, playing, talking, and watching much soccer. Between having Brazilian pro coaches coach our Regional ODP team, playing multiple soccer games against local Brazilian teams, playing local futsal games, enjoying beach soccer, watching foot-volley, watching many games on television, and watching Flamengo train up close and personal I leave the country with many thoughts streaming through my head.

1) Despite having less access to money, quality fields, and equipment teenage players from Brazil seem to have superior technical skills to our players.

2) Futsal demands great technical skills and forces high speed of play (both thought and execution) upon players. In addition, players have to learn the basic principles of the game to play futsal and play both offense and defense our players seem to sometimes take breaks in transition from one to the other in either direction.

3) The goals set up on multiple beaches and stands to watch beach soccer games show how pervasive a love this country has for soccer.

4) The goals set up in every small park in every neighborhood shows the pervasive love of soccer these parks rage from sand to grass to turf to concrete.

5) Every night there is a quality game with competitive domestic teams to watch.

6) Flamengo, one of the five most popular clubs in the world, allowed our team to sit one yard from their field to watch their training, to take pictures, gave us a close up tour of their grounds and facilities, welcomed us with complimentary juice and snacks, came up to players after practice to sign autographs and take pictures and Ronaldinho even came out a second round and gave his training jersey to a player and took a team picture with all.

7) The Flamengo players were smiling and laughing constantly throughout their training. The next day they won their Copa Libertadores game.

8) Foot-volley was on primetime television and on the one big screen TV in the restaurant as we ate dinner wow!

These facts teach me many things and the constant questions I have heard from people regarding how we can make our players more like those in such countries. Here are some of my reactionary thoughts:

1) This is the result of many factors including points 3, 4, and 5. It is also the result of their culture being less focused on team results and tournaments and more focused on creating beautiful play. Players see creative play constantly and they hear and see the appreciation everyone expresses for such play whether they win or not.

2) Where as indoor soccer is very good and some fantastic indoor fields are being constructed all over our country, futsal has a needed place in our soccer development. The way it forces technical development and speed of play in a small-sided environment can be hugely helpful to player development and is not replicated through indoor play. This game addresses particular weaknesses we see at all levels in our country and this game is much more popular in Brazil, Spain, and Portugal than in the USA. Hmmmm

3) We can wish our game would become as pervasive as it is in Brazil, but it simply is not and will never be. However, introducing our players to the multivariate forms of soccer could be a way to keep them playing in fun ways without seeing it as "training." If they are playing soccer like games in their free-time we coaches should be smiling.

4) I see basketball courts throughout Boston that are prime for such goals. Maybe finding a way to supply goals for these courts and working with Parks and Rec to secure them is a worthy endeavor. I will be looking to do this in Boston for sure.

5) MLS is getting better and better and television coverage of all international leagues is as well. The games are not on the major channels but they surely are accessible for our players now and that is a great thing!

6) What world-class club of any sport in our country allows such personal access and kindness to a foreign team of youth players? I wish our players could have such access to our professional soccer teams (without having to buy 100 tickets). Maybe fans are more important than customers? Maybe we need to think about which comes first does one become a fan after being a customer or vice versa? Flamengo did this to help promote our players' passion and now have a full team of passionate followers who did not know many of the players before this visit. They will now follow that team excitedly.

7) I loved seeing this! Here is to hoping we coaches all enable and enjoy such laughing and smiling during our practices.

8) This will never happen here but video is powerful and we all now have the ability to video our teams and put them on big screens. Maybe doing so more often could help fuel a little more passion it's worth a try.

Admittedly, nothing brilliant or world changing in the above words. However, we are a good soccer nation and need not change our world. Hopefully these nuggets and the nuggets we each take from our experiences help us all grow into a great soccer nation!

(Mike Singleton is the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association's Executive Director and the MIT men's soccer coach. He is a Region I ODP Senior Staff Coach and a U.S. Soccer and US Youth Soccer National Staff Coach.)

NATIONAL COACH KEITH TOZER SAYS FUTSAL BOOMING IN U.S. BUT CHANGES NEEDED TO KEEP U.S. WITH REST OF WORLD

By Tim Sheldon

MILWAUKEE WI (November 18, 2009)
– Keith Tozer has become one of the most central figures in Futsal in the U.S. He's the U.S. National Futsal Coach and was recently appointed a FIFA Futsal Instructor. In this capacity he will be teaching Futsal courses throughout the world.


He sees terrific growth potential for the sport in the U.S. and believes that it is now important to upgrade the skill level of Futsal coaches throughout the country. He feels that it now time for U.S. Soccer to develop a coaching license program for Futsal. He feels that there is great economic potential for creation of a professional Futsal league in the U.S., and that it is inevitable that such a league will come into existence.

He asserts that while the U.S. turned out some very successful teams in international Futsal competition in the late 1980s and into the '90s, the rest of the world and caught on and moved ahead, making the development of Futsal skill development at every level all the more important in the U.S.

He sees Guatemala as the emerging leader of Futsal in CONCACAF, and believes that Guatemala has set an excellent example of how to develop a successful professional league.

He notes that Brazil is still setting the world standard in Futsal. He notes that Brazilian Futsal star Falcao is as big a name in Brazil as any of the outdoor stars and that Brazil is burgeoning with professional and semi-professional Futsal leagues and youth programs.

Tozer sees great potential for the sport in the U.S., once it receives a little more focus and definition.

"I think Futsal in the U.S. is booming," he said. "Every week there's a new league popping up, a new club, a new tournament. I'm very excited about the spreading of Futsal across the country. The byproduct will be better coaches and better players, and better national team players. I think right now it's growing by leaps and bounds."

Tozer has been working with Jon Perry and Peter Vermes at the Super F League and just conducted a seminar for Otto Orf's Cleveland Super F League affiliate. Tozer will be doing more seminar and clinics for Super F members in the next year. As a FIFA Futsal Instructor, he was supposed to go to Australia the first part of November, "but with my preseason starting with the Milwaukee Wave, I couldn't do that. I know there will be many more trips during the next year."

He also has been busy with his own company, Teamwork Concepts, which presents motivational speechs and workshops to youth groups and business organizations. All the while, he is preparing the Major Indoor Soccer League Milwaukee Wave for their season-opening match Nov. 22 against La Raza de Monterrey.

"Hopefully, there will be a lot more teaching opportunities here in the United States, Tozer said. "I think that's where it's really needed. We have a lot of players playing Futsal but I don't know how many of those players are actually being taught the game. We're playing, which is wonderful. Now we have to get everyone playing in a system and getting that all sorted out in the next couple of years."

He said U.S. Soccer could provide instruction for the Futsal coaching license through weekend courses similar to those provided for the D or F licenses for outdoor soccer.

"It's something that I'm going to be pushing here. Hopefully we can get around the U.S. and see a lot more coaches than we are now. It would be a great way to get the coaches together and start getting the philosophy out there."

Authority over Futsal has been an issue over the past several years in the U.S., and Tozer helped present a more focused view of who is in command.

"The national team is governed by the U.S. Soccer Federation, which the group that I work for. And then you have two of the bigger groups, one being the Super F League under Peter Vermes and Jon Parry, and the other being the U.S. Futsal Federation."

Tozer noted in response to a question that the Super F League is affiliated with U.S. Soccer, but because of recent changes, the U.S. Futsal Federation is not currently affiliated with U.S. Soccer or FIFA.

As national team coach, Tozer is looking for opportunities to rebuild the team that finished out of the running in the 2008 World Championship in Brazil, but it appears he'll have to wait until the 2010 World Cup concludes in South Africa.

"Obviously with the World Cup coming up this summer, that's at the forefront of everybody at the Federation. We have not had any trips. We have not had any camps since the Futsal World Championship a year ago. So we're waiting to see what the next step is going to be."

While the U.S. is inactive, many other countries are playing "a ton of Futsal."

Brazil, for instance has played up to 30 national games since the 2008 Futsal World Championship.

"Obviously, they have a different infrastructure with a professional league and a bunch of other leagues. So they're playing Futsal all of the time, where we don't have a professional league, and we're at the ground floor, the bottom of the ladder of this Futsal program that we're starting."

If the U.S. hopes to regain some of its early international stature in Futsal, it will have to build the necessary infrastructure, with the right coaching, Tozer said. And signs of growth have been very impressive.

"I think that with all these leagues popping up in the U.S. is wonderful. Buffalo just announced that they're starting a Super F League group, and Otto Orf has done a terrific job in Cleveland. He has a facility with four Futsal courts. He have groups popping up all over the place ... What we need to do is get to the coaches to make sure they at least have an idea of systems of play and pass it on to the players. I'd love to see that license that we talked about. More people are going to be popping up. Hopefully there will be a scouting system where somebody will call me up and say there's a kid in Buffalo or there's a kid in San Francisco, or there's a kid in Washington D.C. that you need to take a look at."

Tozer said the next level would lead to development of a national tryout camp leading to deveopment of U20 or U23 teams similar to outdoor.

The U.S. Team will get moving again once the World Cup has concluded and CONCACAF resumes its Futsal schedule.

"The only problem is that the players I had in 2008 are two years older and in the meantime have not played any Futsal ... I've said this, and this is not an excuse, that back in the late 1980s and early 90s we had 20 some teams in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), and we had some great players. At the same time, Futsal was at its infancy. I remember playing in the first tournament in 1986 in Budapest, and there was really no system of play. It's was basic soccer with less guys and a smaller field. And then in '92 I thought our team did fabulously in Hong Kong. But again, Futsal was in its infancy. I'll bet a lot of money that at that particular time there were not many professional Futsal leagues in the world, and if there were, there were only one or two in '92. We could take our best players from the Major Indoor Soccer League or outdoor and still be one of the top teams in the world."

Since then, the game of Futsal has grown so much.around the world, and professionals in other countries are playing up to 80 games a year including preseason, playoffs, tournaments, league play, and national team games," Tozer noted.

"So the breakaway has been dramatic."

That breakway also applies to CONCACAF.

"We always felt that us, Costa Rica and Cuba were always the top three teams. And of course in '96 and 2004 we won the Gold. Since then Guatemala now has a professional league where all of their players are playing all of the time, and they're traveling with the national team to Brazil and Europe. They won the last CONCACAF. You can tell a dramatic difference between the 2004 team and the 2008 team."

Tozer thinks the U.S. can match that and come up with a pro Futsal league in some form in the near future.

"I think the Federation sees the importance of not only becoming a power in Futsal in the world, but also the benefit that it has for the outdoor game, and sees the benefit of Futsal for technical and tactical reasons. It sees that everybody is playing small-sided games now. It sees it as a huge money-maker for the Federation, be it league play, tournaments or coaching licenses. So it's on the radar. The blip is a little small now, but hopefully it will get bigger and bigger."

Tozer likes the blueprint used by Guatemala to establish its professional league.

"All of the professional teams are in Guatemala City. I don't know how many they have now. But they're all inside one city ... Kind of like England outdoor, where you have all within London ... That's how I would envision Futsal being started in this country."

While Guatemala has moved to the forefront in CONCACAF, other countries are also moving ahead.

"I know Panama is beginning a league. Mexico has always played Futsal, but I don't know how big their program is professionally. I just think it's a matter of time for the U.S.

"In Brazil it's absolutely huge. Falcao is as big as any other outdoor player in Brazil. You say Falcao to anybody in Brazil, and they know who he is."

LAS VEGAS BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS EXEC JIM RICHARDS SEES BIG GROWTH FOR YOUTH FUTSAL, ONCE ECONOMY REBOUNDS

By Tim Sheldon

LAS VEGAS NV (October 27, 2009)
- Futsal has become Jim Richards' sport of choice when working with large numbers of kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and he sees rapid growth for the sport once the economy turns.


Richards, a 35-year veteran of the Boys & Girls Clubs who is now President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, said he recognized the value of Futsal while directing the Columbia Park Boys Club in San Francisco's Mission District.

"I hooked up with (U.S. Minisoccer Federation Vice President for Public Relations) Jorge Bordt back in the late 1980's," he said. "After the 1984 Olympics, Peter Ueberroth created an Olympic Development Fund for the Boys & Girls Club, and there were four sports involved, including team handball, table tennis, volleyball and Futsal.

"And of the sports that lasted, the only one that really stuck was Futsal, and at some of the clubs Futsal surpassed basketball in popularity."

Richards moved to San Francisco at the end of 1989 to take over as executive director at Columbia Park Boys Club, and Bordt stopped by to demonstrate Futsal. The club launched a Midnight Futsal program which became instantly popular.

"When the whole world was doing Midnight Basketball, we were on ESPN with an 11-minute piece on Midnight Futsal," Richards recalled. "It showed that there are a lot of alternatives to street violence. Give kids a choice between gang activity and Futsal, and Futsal would win out every time."

Columbia Park used the same template as Midnight Basketball with it's Futsal program designed to keep kids off the streets on Friday and Saturday nights.

"We had a partnership with the police, who drove our kids home in vans," Richards said. "In the early 90's at the Mission Precinct, the officers would round up their vans, because we would have up to 150 boys in the building on a Friday night, and the last thing you want to do is push them all out walking home."

Columbia Park combined their vans with the police vans, and in a remarkable cooperative effort, "we taught the police how to referee the games, and they coached many of our teams. For years we had 100 kids in that one Columbia Park space. I drove a van until 1 in the morning on Friday nights.for three years once the police quit."

It was a great partnership until the city ran into a budget crunch and stopped police van service. Columbia was forced to discontinue the Midnight program because, "we didn't want to contribute gang violence in the streets. We wanted to be the alternative to gang violence. When kids had a choice between Futsal and gang activity, Futsal would win out every time."

Richards is now developing Futsal programs with equal energy in Las Vegas. He has been organizing Boys & Girls Club teams from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Reno and San Francisco to take part in the Hawaiian Holiday Youth Futsal Tournament in Kauai, joining club teams from Honolulu and Kauai.

They've also just rebuilt the club in North Las Vegas, the James Clubhouse, and installed a natural grass Futsal court outside.

"It's an almost all Latin community now and they're going to love playing outside on the grass. They'll be able to play barefoot," Richards said.

They have two gyms in Las Vegas. One has four indoor courts and the other has three.

"We could host a national Futsal championship using the seven courts at the two locations," he said. "So we're looking forward to growing the program as the economy comes back.

"I see nothing but growth with the Futsal program. It's absolutely a great game. If I had only basketball and Futsal, I would take Futsal because kids at every age feel comfortable playing it. Kicking the ball is so much more natural and easy for them. It's a much better developmental program. If I only had one it would be Futsal."

JAVIER LOZANO RECOMMENDS FUTSAL FOR YOUTH PLAYERS

Letter from Javier Lozano
National Futsal Coach of Spain

MADRID (July 14, 1998)
- In answer to your questions, I started playing Futsal in 1982. My teams were Toledo (five seasons), Algon (one season), Marsanz (one season), and Cajatoledo (two seasons). I played my last game on 7 July, 1991.


When I was a player, I trained younger players, but I began as a professional coach on 15 August 1991. The last team where I played was my first team as a professional coach. I became national coach in January, 1992.

"In Spain, actually, all soccer players under 25 have practiced Futsal in schools and and have played in youth championships.

I will not be taking a club team to the championships in Belgium, because I will be training the national team only.

My advice for youth soccer coaches is for them to work toward developing the following qualities that can be derived from Futsal:

* Play in reduced spaces with the smaller, Futsal ball because this adapts well to the smaller size of the youth players.

* The use of five players on the smaller playing area ensures that the players participate more, and it accelerates their acquisition of technique.

* Playing in reduced space develops creativity.

* Playing very close the their opponents in the small area accustoms the players to think and makes decisions very rapidly.

* The small playing area and close proximity of opponents causes the players to learn to move without the ball in order to create free space.

* Participation of substitutes is very dynamic and has special importance.

Brazilian players are the best in individual technique, specifically in their speed in the execution of technique. It's easier for them, because of the social characteristics of their environment, they have much more time to practice with the ball at a very early age.

Another detail in the Brazilians' favor is that Futsal has been played in their country for the past 50 years.

In Brazil, all of the outdoor players have played Futsal.