2005 ANNUAL HEAD REFEREE MESSAGE
During 2005 PWSRA held six meetings and made presentations at two PWSI Coaches meetings. The meetings were better attended than in 2003 and 2004 although but still could be better.
PWSRA sponsored three Grade-8 recertification classes last winter and two recert classes this year along with an upgrade class. At our meetings we had two National Referees, Ben Jones and Doug Engstrom, join us in making presentations. Few associations can offer that level of experience. In addition to classroom training we also offered three on-field clinics for new referees which helped our new referees immensely.
STATE REFEREE ACADEMY
We sent, and PWSI funded, the attendance of one of our referees, Brian Beck, to the State Youth Academy in Richmond in July.
OUTREACH TO COACHES
At both PWSI Coaches meeting an offer was made to provide a referee to show the video The Myths of the Game to any interested team (players and parents). Initially no team took us up on this offer. However, we later worked with the U12B league and did show the video to interested coaches, players, and parents in November. It was well received and we hope to do it again in the future.
We proposed a change in the fall which PWSI funded. It was a simple change --- putting halfway flags on the fields. But it greatly helped with crowd control and game management, and we thank PWSI for supporting us.
Believe it or not, we still need more referees. The one "success" that we will claim is 100% coverage on our regularly scheduled Saturday matches for the fall season. This does not mean we have enough referees. We have done this by utilizing all our available referees each and every Saturday. However, for those last minute schedule changes including some makeup games on Sundays were are unable to get enough refs to cover all those games. We still would like 10-15% more refs to be able to help out and work with us so we can achieve 100% coverage for all our games for 2006.
VISION FOR 2006
Throughout my life I have served as a youth director, field manager for a high school foreign exchange program, and now am Head Referee for PWSI. In each of those positions I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards that come from working with young people. Make no mistake about it. I believe people live up or down to our expectations and if we have high expectations for our youth they will achieve them. I have high expectations for our young referees.
More than three quarters of our referees are youth. Do not read into this that I am not interested in seeing our adults upgrade to Grade 7 or 6 or higher. I am. We would love nothing more than to target some adults for advancement to Grade 7 or 6. if we have to recommend more competitive matches outside our association, we will do that as well.
But the bulk of our referees are youth. Compared with our adults, our young referees are at a disadvantage: (1) Their people-management skills are not yet developed; (2) Culturally they are not prepared to admonish or disagree with adults; and (3) They may lack confidence in their knowledge and application of the "Laws of the Game."
We must see that they are successful on the field. There is a selfish reason for this. A successful referee will be much more interested in returning the next year than someone who feels they were not supported.
We have a large number of young referees. I am more optimistic about the referee program than I have ever been. Some of our 13-14 year olds are already showing signs of great promise for the future. We have a wonderful core of 15-16 year old refs as well as some 17-18 year olds who will be going to college next fall. When PWSI hosted BV Cloppenburg we used National Referees to be the referees and we used four of our young referees to be assistant referees. That alone says a lot about the quality of our young officials.
Still, I would like to "target" more of our young referees for higher assignments. Therefore, if you are a young referee and want a target on your back -- contact me. If you have a goal you want to achieve please seek me or another senior referee out and let them know what you would like to achieve in 2006.
Like last year, this year was overall a pretty stress-free year but not to the two or three referees who had an ugly confrontation with an adult, be it a coach or parent. To our younger referees (under 18) you must know that you can stop your match (Law 5: Powers of the referee) and seek help from an adult. The adult will preferably be another referee at the complex but can also be an adult coach. To our adult referees no game that we do is the World Cup. All can be stopped and if a young referee is in trouble you MUST stop what you are doing to render assistance. As assistant referees we must ASSIST. And if a young person is in trouble there is nothing wrong with entering the field to assist them. While this should be covered in the pregame conference, do not be shy about helping a young official who needs help.
We still need to have a funded mentor program to improve the quality of our refereeing and hope we can achieve that in 2006. We all learn when we work with referees with more experience than we have. But we also learn when we mentor and have to teach new referees as well.
Even more so than we did in the past, a number of our senior referees have given up centers to allow our younger refs to step in. To you we thank you. And we'll continue to expect more of that in 2006.
The SFL wrote a new "rule" into their local rules of competition that prohibits a referee from officiating a match unless they are two years older than the age group. We were able to push back and have that rule amended so that if we have a mentor program in place and an adult is on the crew, then we can deviate slightly from the two year rule. We did that three times in the fall. But to be successful we need the adults to be willing mentors, even if it's just as a teaching AR.
We have the right people. We have the right young referees and we have the right adults -- adults who are willing to help and to teach. We look forward to a great 2006.
Barry L Sherry
PWSRA/PWSI Head Referee