The year is 2022. We are in year three of Covid-19 soccer here in the United States. We had the entire spring season of 2020 wiped out as the world learned how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and began to study how to treat people who tested positive of Covid-19. Our fall season of 2020 was full of new protocol that introduced the hand wave instead of the hand shake and electronic whistles. As the vaccines began being injected the 2021 season started to feel a little more normal– Coaches and players were starting to go back to their old patterns of dissent and wanting to be right all the time– not realizing how few referees were available for games. Recertifications went full virtual as most clubs were not holding new referee training classes. Add in the PA State Sandusky requirements being updated every 5 years and the referee’s fully compliant really reduced the number of available game officials.
This is underlying even before we get to game day. My 2022 highlights include the following:
— Completing my US Soccer National D Coaching course.
— Coaching a middle school girls team where the skill was comparable to a grassroots travel team.
— Coaching a U8 team to remember why I love this game so much.
— Hosting a winter futsal clinics for U8-U10 in a community that does not have a soccer club.
— Coaching groups in four different Western PA counties.
— Officiating in-house U10 games at Plum where I can put my referee and coach hat at the same time.
— Demoting myself as coach so I could referee a Jr. High game in order for the game to be played.
— Starting a U14 game with no Assistant Referee’s because the Riverhounds Development Academy changed age groups and game tims on my ARs leading to them missing the game we were scheduled to work together.
— Travelling to Plum, Kittanning and Mars to help local clubs cover their normal travel schedule.
— Issuing a red card to a U10 coach for dissent in the first 20 minutes of the game, liberating his players from his coaching tactics and letting them play to their full potential and win the tournament championship. This was with two teenage ARs who received the bulk of his dissent.
— Dealing with the NFHS “soft” red card when issuing one yellow for unsporting behaviour and a 2nd yellow for dissent as the “substitute” was going off for the PIAA mandated 5 minute cool off. Obviously a brilliant idea that didn’t check the boxes of the IFAB.
— Explaining the above “soft” red to a former FIFA AR with a straight face.
— Trying to convince several athletic directors in rural communities to introduce JR. Referee’s and referee classes to the PIAA similar to what WIAA does since their boy’s and girl’s play soccer in different seasons.
— Getting to do a few Ambassador’s futsal games so I could see the pure joy of refugee youth play a game inside on a smooth surface so their skills could be on display.
— Having to wait for the lights to come on in Munhall.
— The night game under the lights and a constant downpour in Munhall.
— Rain, Sleet, Snow and Sun all in one half in North Versailles.
— Having to set my blocks in Demosphere, Arbiter, Game Officials, my paper calendar and Horizon because every assignor thinks their system is better. Just go to the ARBITER people.
You may notice that my referee highlights are below my coaching highlights. While I understand the game needs officials that are willing and able to keep the games going. I’ve realized a lot of players and coaches have never realized that there are two sets of laws good referees follow: the Laws of the Game and the Spirit of the Game.
I’ve began to set a low bar for dissent when people forget they are playing a game that is meant to be fun. 🤩Personal thoughts and observations over the past 12 months.
What if the United States took a referee development approach that is used in Europe? I was checking out the club where some of my coworkers kids play. There is a country-wide approach the referee issue.
LET’S TRY AN INTRODUCTION LIKE THIS TO RECRUIT REFEREES. LET’S OFFER IN-PERSON USSF COURSES TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. LET’S MAKE IT TOO DIFFICULT FOR THE PIAA NOT TO ACCEPT THESE STUDENTS.
We are always looking for interested people– Parents, fitness fanatics, former soccer players, community activists, brothers, sisters, college students, even grandparents– who would like to be active as referees for our club.
- Are you at least 12 years old, do you enjoy football?
- You will complete the referee candidate course and after the successful theoretical test, you will be classified depending on your age in the youth or adult area.
- Participation in the referee evening is compulsory once a month! (Virtual or in person.)
- Once a year there is a fitness test and a theoretical performance check!
Your personal benefits:
- There are NO costs for you.
- Our club bears all the costs for the training and registration.
- and the entire initial equipment needed for your referee work.
- and for the PA State Triple Layered Background checks, post Sandusky.
- Any travel expenses incurred for the training will be reimbursed to you.
- As a referee, there are expense allowances in the junior division of €12 to €3,800.00 per game in the MLS, depending on the division.
- In addition, you will receive an annual fee for your commitment from our association.
- The referee’s ID entitles you to free entry to all games of MLS, NWSL, USL Championship, UPSL, NPSL, MASL. (Some restrictions may apply loccally.)
Are you interested? What else would it take to get you out of your sideline watching and onto the pitch?