2003 ANNUAL HEAD REFEREE MESSAGE
During the 2003 season the PWSRA held four meetings and made one presentationAD at the PWSI Coaches meeting. The meetings were poorly attended and we took actions to address the communicating of our meeting announcements. Our meeting announcements were not posted on the PWSI web site. In fact, until November 2003, the PWSI web site had information on the referee program dated October 2002. Within the last month all referee information was removed from the PWSI web site. We recognized that the PWSI web site is maintained by volunteers and to give us more control over referee information we created our own site for referees.
On November 4, 2003, the PWSRA launched its own web site. In just one month we deployed an on-line referee registration from for the Thanksgiving Classic, tested on-line game reporting for referees, and on-line Coach Observation reporting. In addition, we deployed real-time field condition information about the tournament. The site is hosted by Verizon but can be reached by typing www.pwsra.org. We have requested that PWSI link referee information to PWSRA.
At our Annual Meeting we agreed that the bylaws of the PWSRA be modified. Last changed around 1990, many changes have occurred in the soccer community in the past 13 years. A meeting will be called in 2004 for the purpose of making changes to the bylaws.
PWSRA sponsored two Grade-8 recertification classes in December 2003.
OUTREACH TO COACHES
During 2003 the PWSRA held a joint referee-coach meeting to discuss common issues and problems and how to resolve them. One coach attended. In addition, at the 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). No team took us up on this offer.
Throughout 2003 a number of games went uncovered or undercovered. Undercovered includes games that did not have a three-man crew and games where a referee had to take on a greater skill level than he was qualified to do. To alleviate this shortage, the PWSRA is looking to sponsor new referee classes in 2004 in the eastern and central areas of Prince William County in addition to those listed on the State Referee web site. We are also in discussion of incentives with PWSI to help recruit and retain referees.
VISION FOR 2004
We are asking that 2004 to be a year in which we all do ONE thing more. We want every referee to commit to taking on ONE more assignment than they did in 2003. We want every experienced referee to find ONE new referee to assist. We want every referee to spend ONE more hour reading questions and answers about the LOTG or Advice to Referees on the LOTG. We want every referee to attend ONE more MLS game and participate in the ONE more Meet the Referee segment. We want every referee to attend ONE more meeting than s/he did in 2003. We want every senior referee to commit to refereeing ONE more adult match than they did in 2003. We want every senior referee to give (yes, give) ONE day (or even one half day) volunteering as a senior level observer/mentor at our locations where the U-littles play.
No new referee, especially no young referee should have his or her first game alone. We must do a better job of easing our refs to the right level so that they have fun with the job.
Every referee needs to take a rotation as an AR with older referees to learn how experienced referees handle difficult situations.
We must support the adult league. They're not bad people. In fact, if you smile at them -- they smile back. As long as they are USSF affiliated, their games count towards upgrading to a State Level ref is you ever desire to get there. I am going to personally ask every adult to commit to taking one adult match this spring season and we will cover ALL their matches.
Too many referees are looking shabby on the fields. Every adult ref referee should own all the colors (different jerseys) and probably should own them in both sleeve lengths. It has always been my position our young refs are learning whether the game is right for them and we are willing to give them a break in their first season. But if a young ref enjoys reffing or the money enough to return, they too need to own more than one color jersey.
We want to help young refs with their uniforms. We are discussing a uniform purchase program with PWSI. We also want to start a uniform exchange program. As referees outgrow or outlive (not die -- just decide it's not for them) their uniforms we want to start an exchange where uniforms can be donated and exchanged.
Not all our proposals will be popular. The association is unfunded and we are looking for creative ways to fund it. As of now, we cannot afford the cost of a $0.37 stamp. We cannot print a handy reference of the 7+7 guide or a pre-game checklist. We cannot print a list of emergency phone numbers for the ref to carry with him or her to the fields. We will look seriously at fines for missed assignments as one way of raising money. Hopefully a fine will be enough disincentive enough that we raise no money this way. But no game should go uncovered simply because someone sleeps in or decides to go to Kings Dominion for the day.
We will have a new Assignor and every Assignor works differently. We can tell you there will be a different assigning process. We are looking at different Internet assigning programs since we are entrenched in the Internet age. We tested on-line reporting as a way of submitting game reports in a near real-time environment. We do not wish to see any Assignor have to beg for September game reports in December.
We plan to institute a referee evaluation program within PWSRA. This will help us get the right referee assigned to the proper level match and will allow us to target referees for personal growth.
We have tested and are looking at on-line Coach Observation Forms. Observation by coaches is important to the referee community. Their observation can help us develop specific training to address our weaknesses. More important, as people, we want to be heard. Without an outlet to voice concerns sometimes the only outlet is to voice their displeasure on the field. It is hoped that if coaches know that someone will hear their concerns they will be less likely to try to address those on the spot.
We are looking to sponsor a youth referee meeting in which our young referees will be able to get together and discuss problems and situations unique to youth refereeing. It will be chaired by our youth referees and adults will not be invited (except as required by our building use permit). We are looking at developing a small-sided soccer clinic so that referees who want to work the small-sided games feel comfortable with the unique challenges of working by oneself.
Lastly, if I ask you to serve the association in an official role, please say yes. We all must contribute to the success of the association and Prince William Soccer.
We look forward to the coming year. It may be a year with many changes -- but those changes are ones in which we undertake to give back to this beautiful game.
Re-certify and have a healthy and prosperous 2004.
Barry L Sherry
PWSI Head Referee