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March 27, 2021

By Keith Tozer, 03/27/21, 3:30PM CDT


Houston Dynamo FC + Soccer Starts at Home + Futsal + Kipp Charter Schools

Ingredients for Success

Futsal has been growing here in the U.S. for the past 20 years, but nothing like the huge surge it is experiencing right now. More and more outdoor soccer clubs are now adding futsal to their youth development models, and many more futsal specific academies and clubs are emerging across the country. Futsal facilities are being built within many inner cities as well as urban areas during this recent growth. Some of the many contributors to this growth include the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Target Corporation who recently finished building 100 mini-pitches, and many other private and public institutions.

Additionally, futsal coaching education courses are beginning created. Most recently, the US Youth Futsal program has released its Level 1 & 2 Online Certification Courses. The response to these futsal specific coaching education courses have been well received, with many great testimonies for some of the top futsal leaders in the world. This prominent list includes Javier Lozano, two-time World Cup champion from Spain, Diego Giustozzi, the 2016 World Cup champion from Argentina, and Ali Targholizadeh, the Director of Futsal for the Asian Football Confederation, just to name a few.

What is also extremely exciting is what is transpiring in Houston, Texas. The Houston Dynamo FC of MLS have partnered with Tom Byer, who authored the book ‘Soccer Starts at Home’, which is the methodology of parents beginning the process of ball mastery with their children beginning at the entry level of Football, 2-7 years old. “The countries that develop the best players in the world win the battle at the entry level”, stated Byer. “The rest of the world tries to catch up at the Elite Level, but they lost that battle at the least expensive level and spend millions trying to catch up, but rarely do.”

Paul Holocher, Academy Director of the Houston Dynamo, reached out to Tom to bring his methodology to their academy. Tom (who lives in Japan) visited the Dynamo Academy several times and now has daily calls with Paul to continue implementing their program. They started by meeting with the academy parents to explain ball mastery at home and how to facilitate and nurture the program. From there they needed to train the Dynamo staff on how to teach the different exercises associated with ball mastery and manipulating the ball. However, their idea was far more reaching then just the Dynamo Academy as they contacted the Kipp Charter Schools to have the ability to reach greater numbers of youth soccer players in the Houston area. “We are extremely excited about the developments that are beginning to unfold at the younger ages. Ball Mastery and Futsal are staples of our philosophy and it’s exciting to take these steps to improve early age development in Houston,” stated Holocher.

I have personally known Tom Byer for over 35 years as we both grew up in New York and Tom came to try out for two of the professional indoor soccer teams I have previously coached, the Louisville Thunder of the AISA and the LA Lazers of the MISL. We have stayed friends ever since. Tom and Paul reached out to me regarding the next phase in a young players evolution and their idea was to add futsal to the program. I cannot tell you how excited I was when asked. This could be groundbreaking; not only for Kipp Charter Schools, the Dynamo’s Academy program, or even all the interested families in and around the Houston area. If done correctly this could be the start of every Kipp Charter School across the nation adopting the same methodology, as well as any other school system that may express interest. Wow! What a great way to create success at the entry level! My thought is, ball mastery creates painters, and futsal can be their canvas. This program could give so many young players a different pathway to build confidence and help to nurture and develop great players for futsal AND soccer here in the US. All while creating a fun and safe environment to grow within.

The next hurdle for the Kipp Futsal League program (that is what I passionately called it) was to cover the needed facilities and equipment. The courts were easy to come by, as most schools in the U.S. have basketball (futsal) courts and many have multiple courts including outdoor basketball and tennis courts. Kipp Charter Schools was no exception. To cover another hurdle, the Dynamo went out and purchased portable futsal goals and futsal balls for each school. So now all the Kipp Phy Ed teachers are in the process of going through the Ball Mastery Program, and then the Dynamo are also going to provide them with the USYF Online Coaching Education platform.

I must tip my hat to the Houston Dynamo for believing in Tom’s methodology and providing it to all the families in the Houston area. I also want to congratulate my great friend Tom Byer for developing his ‘Soccer Starts at Home’ program, as it has taken him many years to build his current following. And finally, a big thank you goes out to Akua Ywumasi, Regional Athletic Director of the Kipp Charter Schools for having the vision to provide these programs to all their students.

Great things are happening in futsal. This is just one small step for soccer, but one huge step for futsal!

Stay safe, stay well, and hopefully see you on the court very soon!

Keith Tozer



Check out my latest show with my guest Tom Byer author of “Soccer Starts at Home” & Paul Holocher Academy Director of the Dynamo discussing the Kipp Charter School program!  

To hear all our past World of Futsal episodes, visit Apple Podcast or anywhere you get yours. To listen to today’s show, click on: