Toni, I had the pleasure of learning from you a couple years ago at United Futsal’s Top 12 Experience. I remember very clearly your passion, knowledge, and friendliness. You were completely immersed in the game. It was quite inspirational. So I appreciate you taking time to sit down and reflect on your coaching career and your love of futsal.
What are your earliest futsal memories and why do you feel so passionate about the sport?
The truth is that I started playing futsal at the age of 9 while I was doing PE! Then I saw on TV that a lot of futsal matches were being played every week. Teams like Interviu Boomerang, El Pozo Murcia, and Caja Segovia were some of the first teams. From there I was hooked. I’ve never stopped watching futsal since.
So, you can imagine, I have lived futsal since I was very young. I have watched thousands of matches on TV, in arenas, at tournaments, leagues, but always futsal. I have actually never played soccer, ever!! The adrenalin you can feel in your veins when playing or watching this amazing sport is irreplaceable. Once you taste it, you are hooked and you will never want to change it for another sport!!
You have a well earned reputation as one of the top youth coaches in Spain. What are the qualities that allow you to connect so well with players and other coaches? What are your principles as a director and coach?
Probably the best people to answer these questions are the players I’ve coached during all those years. I started coaching at the age of 14, so I think starting early definitely helps. Since that time my thoughts have changed so much!! You never stop learning.
To really understand any subject, the best way in my opinion, is to teach it. What I really try to do is have the players understand the game!! This is my ultimate goal. The player should understand why, when, and how they do or should do things on the court. Before talking of systems, the player must understand the game and all the concepts that are in motion during it. Once he understands this, he will be able to play any system.
I am close to my players and speak a lot to them as individuals. I ask thousands of questions just trying to get them to think and develop. Never make them choose the easy options or the easy ways. That is when you develop robots on the court. Players that just do the same movements without reading the game while it’s played. Another aspect is to make sure everyone on the team speaks the same language. It is important that your ideas and words as a coach are understood by each player in the same way. Then you will be starting a team, but not before that! And lastly, transmit your passion as they will only be as passionate as we are.
Along with Antoine Stinissen and Miguel Puig Gonzales, you recently founded ProFive Academy. Can you speak a bit to the ideas behind your program and what you hope to accomplish?
We really wanted to do our bit for the game of futsal. It’s a fantastic game of skill, pace, passion, and joy. We want everyone to enjoy it as we believe everyone deserves it. We want to provide everyone an opportunity to experience the game at its best. To see how it should really be played, watched, taught, and experienced. In many countries futsal is still in its infancy, so we really want to give players, coaches, and teams the opportunity to come to Spain and for us to show why we are so passionate about this beautiful little game and pass on our knowledge.