Sean Bowers, Former Captain of U.S. National Futsal Team on Futsal & Why You Should Care About Futsal
Sean Bowers has pioneered Futsal in the Southern California area and is the founder of 619 Futsal and a long time director with US Youth Futsal. Passionate on why youth soccer players should play futsal, Bowers has helped thousands of kids develop better soccer skills.
Sean Bowers is the General Manager of the San Diego Sockers and has coached soccer and Futsal at all levels in the United States from youth club soccer all the way up to professional men’s and women’s soccer.
As a professional player, Bowers was selected in the first round of the inaugural MLS Super Draft and played for four seasons with Sporting KC — back when it was called Kansas City Wizards. The 1992 NPSL Rookie of the Year, four-time Defender of the Year and a six-time All Star in four different leagues, Bowers was a super star pro player. As a Futsal player, he proudly served as captain of the U.S Futsal Team from 1996 to the 2004 Futsal World Cup.
With an exceptional background, Bowers gives back to the game he loves with his talent for coaching and inspiring players.
Futsal was a wonderful tool that helped my MLS career.
Here is a new, exclusive interview with Bowers:
Diane Scavuzzo: As the man with the most CAPS for the US Futsal team — and as a retired U.S. soccer defender — what advice do you have to players who want to become professionals or play soccer in college?
Sean Bowers: It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to reach your goal.
I come from a place where I wasn’t the most skilled player and I had to outwork my opponent. Working hard should be a given — yet, when I watch games or practices at the club or college level — there seems to be a lack of demanding excellence from our players.
So, my advice would be:
- Hold yourself accountable
- Demand excellence from yourself on a daily basis.
Diane Scavuzzo: As a native San Diegan, how have you seen soccer change since you were a youth soccer player?
Sean Bowers: Soccer has changed tremendously. Soccer has become more relevant in our society and our expectation for our national teams is on a whole new level. Coaching soccer in the USA is also taken more seriously now.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you become involved with Futsal? How did it change your career?
Sean Bowers: In 1996, after my first season in the MLS, I was called up to the US Futsal National Team and we traveled to Brazil. I remember our first game as we played the World Cup champions and lost 13-1. It was a humbling experience but also very motivating for me to become a better futsal player, which also translated into becoming a better MLS soccer player.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you launch 619 Futsal?
Sean Bowers: We launched 619 Futsal in the Winter of 2011 and we had 33 teams our first season. Now, in 2017 we have tripled in size and are easily over 100 teams per session.
In fact, over 20,000 players have registered with 619 Futsal.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who works with you at 619 Futsal?
Sean Bowers: I am very fortunate to have Briana Wilcox, Director of Operations and Mike Gentry, Director of Player Development work with me and we are a great team.
Diane Scavuzzo: From your perspective, how has Futsal changed since you became involved?
Sean Bowers: Everything about Futsal has changed since I was first introduced to the game. But what has changed the most about Futsal over the years is that in most countries, youth soccer programs realize Futsal is a tremendous tool to help develop soccer players at every level. America is still behind the curve on this.
Diane Scavuzzo: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Sean Bowers: It has to be being Captain and leading a group of men in 1996 and 2004 FIFA Futsal World Cups and representing my country.
There is no other feeling like being a captain of a National Team and leading a group of men for a common goal.
Diane Scavuzzo: As the founder of 619 Futsal and a Director at US Youth Futsal, what has been your biggest challenge?
Sean Bowers: My biggest challenge has been and continues to be educating players, coaches and parents of the benefits of Futsal.
I think there is an old school mentality of how soccer should be played — and, to be honest how — players should train. Futsal is a tool every player can and should use to better themselves for playing the game of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does playing Futsal help elite players develop?
Sean Bowers: I feel Futsal helps develop players in many ways.
For example: The game of Futsal is quick therefore it helps build our soccer/futsal IQ to make the player think faster.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you and your team identify youth futsal players for the National player ID program in Kansas City?
Sean Bowers: I think the key words that I would use when we look for elite Futsal players are creativity, futsal IQ, skill, off the ball movement.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the big difference between being a soccer player and a Futsal player?
Sean Bowers: Futsal is a totally different game and the biggest difference is the limited space and the ability of a player to use their skill in those tight spaces.
When I was first called up to the National Team, I kept getting called for a tremendous number of fouls.
Being 6’2 and coming off our MLS season, being physical was part of the game of soccer in which I took pride in and was a strength of mine.
As I quickly found out, there is very little physicality allowed in the game of Futsal.
I was even wondering why I was asked to be on the National Futsal team if I couldn’t be physical.
This taught me to become a better defender and not relying on the physical side of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for in a youth Futsal player? What is important? What does it really mean to be both a defensive and offensive player?
Sean Bowers: A few things I look for are:
Does the player read the game and think quickly enough, are they continuously moving with and without the ball,
Are they a leader and helping organize the team both offensively and defensively.
In Futsal, all players must be able to play on both sides of the ball.
When you lose the ball in Futsal you should try to win it back immediately! If not, you should make sure you are organized as a team defensively and make sure you are in the proper defensive position.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the biggest mistakes most youth soccer players make when playing Futsal?
Sean Bowers: I think, like when I first started, most youth soccer players bring what they have learned from the outdoor game into the game of futsal and this doesn’t allow them to be very successful.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the one moment/experience/decision you would like to turn back the clock and change?
Sean Bowers: The only thing I would change would be I had a chance to go to Germany and play in 1993 and knowing what I know now, I would have loved to have taken that chance.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your thoughts on US Youth Futsal (USYF)?
Sean Bowers: I think USYF has come a long way and continues to be the leader of Futsal in the United States.
I believe we have the best people, with the best backgrounds in our sport and are doing it for the right reasons.
I would love to see the USYF Futsal ID program becoming backed 100 percent by US Soccer and to be implemented into our youth soccer curriculum.
Diane Scavuzzo: And, on a final note —what is more important — fame or money?
Sean Bowers: Character, Hard work and Dedication are what is important.