KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 13, 2020) – The soccer world lost a great ambassador on Tuesday when Tony Waiters passed away at the age of 83. A longtime member of the then-NSCAA National Academy Staff, he served as the first Director of Goalkeeping for the association.
United Soccer Coaches joins the rest of the coaching and soccer community in mourning the loss of a great coach, educator and person.
“I knew Tony for almost 40 years and he will be sorely missed. He was the consummate professional but also a kind, caring individual who made each person feel they were special,” said Lynn Berling-Manuel, United Soccer Coaches CEO. “He loved the game but his passion was teaching and mentoring. We have lost a very special friend.”
Waiters was part of the NSCAA/United Soccer Coaches Academy Staff for 25-plus years, instructing not only goalkeeping courses, but all of the association’s diploma offerings.
Waiters began his career as a goalkeeper in his native England, where he earned five caps with the national team in 1964. He played goal for four English clubs before retiring in 1972. He took over as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL in 1977, earning 1978 NASL Coach of the Year honors and leading his team to the league title in 1979.
In 1981, he took over the Canadian Men’s National Team, leading the squad to the quarterfinals of the 1984 Summer Olympics and a berth in the 1986 World Cup, the first and only World Cup berth for the men’s national team.
He served on the CONCACAF Technical & Development Commission, the CONCACAF Panel for Coaching Matters, and served as a FIFA Instructor. He was president of the National Soccer Coaches Association of Canada at the time of his death.
“United Soccer Coaches and the soccer world mourn the loss of Tony Waiters, patriarch of the association’s goalkeeper education arm,” said Kevin Sims, United Soccer Coaches President. “A superb coaching educator whose humility shone through amidst his precise standards, Tony was always a tremendous ambassador for the beautiful game. We would all do well to model his affable nature and spirit of collegiality.”
As news of Waiters’ passing made its way through the association and the soccer world, members and staff began sharing their memories of Tony. A few of those thoughts are shared below.
Ian Barker, United Soccer Coaches Director of Coaching Education
“Tony Waiters was a soccer person through and through. He was a professional player, professional and international coach and a wonderful coach educator. One of the best indicators of the quality of a person is humility and Tony had that in abundance. His work with coaches in the coaching school of our association was always of the highest professional quality and infused with humor and respect for everyone. Tony’s passing leaves a void in our coaching education work and a bigger void in the soccer community. Our hope and belief is that his legacy in the game will endure for a very long time.”
Mike Curry, 2019 Honor Award winner, United Soccer Coaches Foundation Committee Member
Tony took me under his wing immediately after I joined the association over 25 years ago. He was the consummate gentleman, educator, life coach, mentor and friend. I owe him so much for all of the opportunities that he provided and the gifts of his knowledge, experiences and kindness that he shared with me and so many others. I was hoping to see him at the convention this past January to share a big hug, a warm smile and let him know how much he has done for me. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to share part of my soccer life with Tony. He was an incredible person and I will miss him — as will many others.
Paul Payne, United Soccer Coaches Senior Academy Staff/Past President
“He is an example to all coaches in our game. No matter what you accomplish, stay humble. He was a true gentleman and I’m so lucky to have known and worked with him. It’s a huge loss for our association and for soccer.”
Steve Veal, United Soccer Coaches Awards Manager
“Incredibly sad on the loss of a soccer icon, quality soccer educator and even better man. I have missed seeing him in recent years at our convention, but recall vividly the early days seeing him often at our Umbro events and his development of the first goalkeeping coach education materials for us.”
Doug Williamson, United Soccer Coaches Senior Academy Staff
“This is incredibly sad news–a huge loss for our association and for the game as a whole. We are all better coaches, better coaching educators, and better people, for our friendship and our professional and personal time spent with Tony.”