The soccer community in Owensboro continues to see exponential growth, with a recent US Youth Futsal ID Camp—the only one in the state of Kentucky—run by Technical Director Keith Tozer taking place at the Owensboro Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday.
Tozer is no stranger to the word of indoor soccer, playing in the newly created Major Indoor Soccer League in 1978 and making a return to the league after a short stint in the American Soccer League. Once his playing days were behind him he found himself on the sidelines as a coach, serving as the leader for a number of teams before grabbing six championships with the Milwaukee Wave.
This led to him having a longtime career as the US Futsal Team Coach, before jumping into his current role while also serving as a FIFA Futsal Instructor to help continue to shape indoor soccer in the United States. Available to boys and girls born 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 (14), the ID camps are intended to find some of the best soccer players in the world.
“We have like 16 state identification camps,” Tozer said. “The ones, which are the best players, will then go to Kansas City from July 10 through the 13th and then there will be 550 players. 225 boys, 225 girls. Sixty-five coaches and then we do the same program. Then the best players from there get on youth national teams. The younger kids will go to Brazil in August and the older kids will go to Paris the day after Christmas.”
Sportutor Owner and Director Ty Stauffer—now coaching the Kentucky Wesleyan Women’s Soccer team for the second time as well—was able to help get this camp set up and join in those efforts to grow the sport right here in Owensboro. And for a first year, the numbers were promising.
“This is Ty’s first year and they actually have really good numbers,” Tozer said. “Like anything in life, these kids will tell other kids and the parents will tell other parents… We felt that since futsal is so new, that if we made this a more educational camp with a ton of teaching, that a parent will leave here thinking ‘I spent x-amount of dollars, my kid didn’t make it, but now I know this is so good I’ll come back next year.’”
But knowing that they can’t take everyone from each camp, Tozer and company have hoped to turn the camps into an opportunity to grow the sport while teaching the kids to have fun.
“If they’re all ones, they go,” Tozer said. “If there are none, they don’t go. I want them to get first exposed to the game in a fun environment. If they come and the coach is crazy, they’ll never come back. I’ve been blessed a curse with a deep voice. I say I’m a teddy bear in a grizzly bear outfit. So I try to teach in a way that they have fun… If you give a computer too many downloads, it jams. So I try to teach in building blocks. So one leads to the next. It’s kind of like, you can’t do subtraction without addition.”
Tozer tipped his cap to Stauffer, noting that as the number of kids that get involved in futsal in Owensboro increases, the youth will see exponential growth in every facet of their game.
“Ty has done a fantastic job here bringing futsal to this part of Kentucky,” Tozer said. “I think the parents that will get involved will see that the speed of growth, technically, tactically, physically and psychologically is like being on a treadmill, but you’re on 12 and you’re jogging it.”
With the recent addition of the futsal courts at the Owensboro Convention Center, as well as Apollo Head Coach Nikos Agisilaou hoping to add a second court at Legion Park for the Street Soccer Bowl, Tozer said that it makes a world of difference for the youth in the local soccer community.
“I think it’s a huge difference,” Tozer said. “When I grew up we played pickup baseball in the street where the fire hydrant on the right was first and the fire hydrant on the left was third and the street cover was second. But we learned how to play in a small environment, which all those things I talked about tactically, physically and what not made you a better player. I think the more kids that they can get involved in here, I think it’d be great. All the best players in the world grew up playing this style of game.”