Ref Life: for my friends who don’t get it.

Hello Sports Fans,

This one goes out to a Jr. High Footballer in the Pine Richland School District who refereed his first in-house game two weeks ago and was blasted by adult coaches. After spending some time on the phone with his dad and then reaching out to his assignor, hopefully we’ve put a performance improvement plan in place for the coach involved. This is not the only youth referee I’ve spoken with recently. On every game I’ve done recently there are usually 2-4 young referees that are playing in the game. I’m writing this to make sure they understand their training and understanding of the game are as good as they can be in this point of their development. I’m also advising them that they need to approach the game with a focus on player safety and no need to explain anything to a US Soccer licensed coach.

Why would I be telling this story? It fits four of my daily mantras- vibe so high that I inspire others to change, get out in nature, sweat daily and share my story with anyone that will listen.

Here in Pennsylvania and over in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and West Virginia the issue with finding quality soccer officials has hit an all time challenge for assignors. Why?

What would you think the reasons may be? The Sandusky Background Check? Clubs trying to control the board of the large non-profit that promotes youth soccer in the region? The state high school association still choosing to not follow the FIFA System of Control? Coaches, fans and administrators subjecting referees to their unqualified opinions? Youth referees walking away in their first year after one incident? More paid coaches taking thousands of dollars to coach U-12 soccer? All the new leagues with limited oversight for misconduct? People not understanding the current points of emphasis by US Soccer or the National Federation of secondary schools for the laws/rules of the game? Parents, players and coaches who don’t understand how to build a community around the beautiful game? Maybe the need for more people to take a referee course? Maybe take a sportsmanship course and understand without officials the games would need to be played as intramurals? Maybe after doing both of these things they actually try to run, read, recognize patterns and apply the Laws of the Game to the patterns that cheat the game? I’ve talked to one of my mentors and he reminded me that with our training we only need to do our job, we do not need to provide an explanation or training. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. Feel free to add a comment.

This is a three part post. Today we focus on what my friends from Minnesota are doing to make sure their officials understand how to protect players and ensure misconduct is handled appropriately. Sit through this video if you’d like to understand how referees should apply the laws of the game. While in-person training courses and full discussion is often a good way to learn, these videos are pretty cut and dry to understand what referees should be doing.

Our friends in Minnesota have been sharing their insights into referee development this year. Here’s a good refresher along with something that the new PA West people should look at doing.

Then there is the piece of how to manage games, personnel and development.

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