Keith Tozer talks Fustal, its Benefits, Growth, and Powerful Contribution to Player Development
Keith Tozer has been the longtime U.S. Futsal National Team Head Coach and the Commissioner of the PFL (Professional Futsal League), a FIFA and CONCACAF Futsal Instructor as well as the President of the Wisconsin Sports Group. Tozer has been the top coach in American Futsal for decades, has championed the game and singlehandedly grown the sport in the USA.
Futsal News: Commissioner of the Professional Futsal League, Keith Tozer, is synonymous with game of Futsal in the USA. A retired American professional soccer player who chose to champion Futsal around the world, Tozer was the U.S. Futsal National Team Head Coach for more than two decades. He is also a FIFA and a CONCACAF Futsal Instructor.
Always committed to helping youth soccer players develop, Tozer is the Technical Director for U.S. Youth Futsal’s National program. Every year, this organization selects the very best youth Futsal players across America to represent the USA and takes the teams to compete internationally. Tozer often coaches these youth teams as he teaches players how to be their best on the court.
Tozer has an amazing record and is the most winningest coach in North American professional indoor soccer and works constantly to help raise the level of player development.
SoccerToday’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with Tozer about the powerful impact Futsal has on player development as well as his perspective, as a leader, on what is needed to truly grow the game in our country.
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes a good leader?
Keith Tozer: If you look at all great leaders, the one “common” denominator they all bring to the board room, office, factory, classroom, locker room, and playing field is passion.
Without passion how do you lead individuals and groups of people towards a common goal?
Secondly, I believe all great leaders have a clear vision on what they envision will make their company or team successful. They then design a game plan or blueprint that sets the vision in motion along with a timeline to do so.
Great leaders also have the ability to call audibles along the way in order to make an adjustment when part of the plan doesn’t work. Leaders have an innate ability to sense when someone needs a push or when they need a hug and are not afraid to make difficult decisions when needed.
Lastly, great leaders will make sure that every team member is held accountable regarding their individual responsibility — as well as take upon their shoulders all the failures or results of the team.
For anything to be successful, it first has to start at the top.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do we need to do to lead the way forward?
Keith Tozer: I would love to see U.S. Soccer make a huge commitment towards the game of Futsal both financially and logistically.
Since we are the World Champion of Women Soccer we need to create a Womens National Futsal Team as well as youth national teams under both our men and women program.
We need to Invest in futsal coaching education, referee education and certification.
I also believe we should create an US Open Cup for futsal, spear head a Gold Cup for our region and bid for the CONCACAF Futsal Qualifiers and eventual the World Cup.
U.S. Soccer partnering with the PFL to help build the game could also be a huge step forward. Once our Federation takes the lead regarding Futsal, you will see a huge buy-in by everyone. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Diane Scavuzzo: To grow the game of Futsal, what are the most important issues we face today?
Keith Tozer: To get the non-believers to believe.
Many of us have said over the years, what do we — as a nation — have to lose if we all embrace the game of Futsal?
It seems very simple to me. The game of futsal can create a more technical player, it changes the physicality of the player, creates conceptual players who understand tactical situations quicker, and with all that, a more confident player with the ball.
Can you imagine if we provide every elementary, middle school, and high school in the U.S. with Futsal goals, provide Physical Education Teachers with curriculum and then have those teachers build data bases regarding the top players? —we would galvanize the game.
Secondly, many players who are serious about a sport look to the professional leagues as their goal.
The Professional Futsal League will have a tremendous impact on those players emerging as Futsal players for a place for them to play and to make a living.
Diane Scavuzzo: How can playing Futsal help instill a passion for the game of soccer?
Keith Tozer: Painters become more passionate about what they paint when they become better at how they paint. I think the same holds true for most young children. When a child feels, sees, and hears that they are getting better at something like playing the piano, their school work, sports or just themselves, then the more confident they become and for many of them it tends to fuel their passion for more.
Players who play Futsal are much more active with the ball then in outdoor for the most part which in turn builds confidence and fuels the fire for their passion to go play outdoor.
Diane Scavuzzo: As a FIFA & CONCACAF Futsal Instructor, how have you seen participation in Futsal grow in recent years?
Keith Tozer: In the past 10 years most importantly, I have seen the sport of Futsal grow at such an enormous rate.
Companies like Target and Adidas along with U.S. Soccer Foundation building 100’s of futsal courts across the U.S. as well as private companies, charities and MLS to name a few.
There has been an emergence of Futsal Clubs and Academies, Regional and National Futsal Championships, and Coaching and Referee Education and Certification. Futsal is in the Junior Olympics, more than 200 FIFA Member Associations now field National Teams … the list goes on and on.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you estimate how many Futsal players there are in the USA?
Keith Tozer: I know there are thousands already playing and thousands more are picking up the game annually. However, I would rather set a goal than speculate. It would be amazing if we could have that number in the millions and not only have players from the suburbs but players from all communities.
Diane Scavuzzo: When you train soccer coaches to become Futsal coaches, what is the biggest challenge?
Keith Tozer: Actually, the only challenge I have faced regarding the outdoor coach is to get them to come to their first training session. Once they have experienced a training session or course, they quickly become believers of how Futsal can help.
In fact, one MLS DA coach recently thanked me and said, “It’s been such a breath of fresh air to learn other concepts and now I understand that Futsal is really about in and around the 18-yard box. We tend to have all of our players and all of our teams play the same and futsal provides another coaching tool for their development.”
Diane Scavuzzo: How many years were you the Head Coach for the U.S. Futsal Team? What are your best memories? Greatest challenges?
Keith Tozer: I am proud and honored to say that I represented my country, my club and my family for 20 years as the Head Coach of the USFMNT. There are so many great memories but to work with so many committed, gifted and passionate men and women from our players, coaching staff and support staff and to travel the world with all of them is one of the highlights.
Winning our first Gold Medal in Guatemala in 1996 and then again in 2004 in Costa Rica followed by finishing in seventh place at the World Cup in Taipei was fantastic.
Greatest challenge has been trying to compete with players around the world who play Futsal every week with either their National Team or Professional Team.
Argentina after winning the World Cup in 2016 in Columbia had all their players back with their professional teams playing games in less than a week. Our USFMNT players have not been together since April 2016 and none of the players have played Futsal at the Professional or National team level since.
Diane Scavuzzo: How important is it that the USA host the FIFA 2026 World Cup? Do you believe we will win the North American bid with Canada and Mexico?
Keith Tozer: I think partnering with Canada and Mexico makes our bid process very strong and compelling. It would be a tremendous boost for the game in North America if Canada, Mexico and the U.S. hosted the 2026 World Cup.
Diane Scavuzzo: USSF’s new president Carlos Cordeiro speaks of the importance of building a coalition of supporters to grow the game, not having people divided into different groups of adults, youth, athletes, professionals …. What are your thoughts on the best way to lead the way forward to create a positive and brighter future?
Keith Tozer: Politicians always promise and history always records the success of these promises.
Best way to build a coalition is to invite all those who are involved — regardless of their past or current relationships, backgrounds and demographic.
I wish Carlos the very best and am ready to help in any way I can!
Diane Scavuzzo: How can we make soccer the preeminent youth sport in America?
Keith Tozer: I firmly believe we have made great strides in the past 10-15 years and will only continue to grow as time goes by.
We have a great new generation of players, coaches, referees, academies, clubs, association, professional leagues, and administrators that have great vision, influence, passion, money, power and commitment to get us there.
The future looks very bright for our soccer, Futsal, beach soccer and Para Olympic programs!
Related Article: KEITH TOZER ON AMERICAN YOUTH SOCCER: WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S WRONG