Prince William SRA


2007 Annual Message

During 2007 PWSRA held five meetings and made presentations at one PWSI Coaches meeting. Attendance at the meetings was near 50% of our membership which is very good. A total of 296 referees attended our meetings and most were repeat attenders. Presenters at our meetings included National Referee Emeritus, Ben Jones and National Assessor, Klaus Staefe.

PWSRA sponsored four new referee courses in January, February, March and August, training 31 new Grade 9 referees and 103 new Grade 8 referees. Our training program is recognized as a leader in northern Virginia. Refs comes from miles around to certify with us. Forty three or 32% were local and refereed with us.

We sponsored three recertification classes August, November, and December. We recertified 166 referees in these three classes. In these three classes we made space available for more than 300 referees to attend.

In addition to classroom training we also offered an on-field clinics for new referees which helped our new referees immensely.

We made a presentation at the fall PWSI Coaches meeting. In addition to Barry’s presentation, Claire Meyers and Angela Ruf assisted in a presentation to the U08 coaches. This was a great help in getting these coaches ready for their first experiences in dealing with referees, but especially youth referees.

For all regularly scheduled Saturday games, we had 100% coverage on all games in both spring and fall seasons. However, this was not always the case with rain makeups. We know that we cannot reschedule an entire Saturday, move it to the following Sunday, and be able to cover all the games. The addition of the all weather turf at Howison Park (Jim Claffey Field) has helped immensely. Never again will an entire Saturday schedule be wiped out due to rain although severe weather is another matter. Including all games, including those rain makeup games on Sundays, our coverage stood at more the 99% for the year.

This fall we moved redesigned our website making it even more user-friendly than it has been in the past.

For three days in October, we assigned all and supplied most of the referees to the WAGS Tournament.

Generally, referees have been doing a good job with game reporting. These reports often included descriptions of situations in which the refs misapplied a modified rule. After years of being the Head Referee and a USSF Instructor, it dawned on me. We do a good job of preparing our referees, including our youth referees, for refereeing World Cup games.

Referees must know the Laws of the Game before they step on the field. This is the purpose, after all, of attending and passing a USSF certification course. But the games new refs will officiate, and probably 100% of youth referees, will be played by Modified Rules.

Yes, we post Modified Rules on a website, two if you include ours and PWSI as well. BUt many new refs are happy to have a U09 assignment and remembering to read or even take the Modified Rules to the field is a foreign concept to them. As a result, frustrated coaches, parents, and even some players have complained that the referee did not know the Modified Rules.

This is not to pick on youth referees or even new referees. The WAGS and NCSL Rules and Discipline have made many decisions when referees misapplied a Modified Rule. Most of these have been errors by adult referees. Referees have to do a better job of preparing before a match and administrators have to do a better job of preparing referees.

A few years ago I took a Coaches licensing course from Lincoln Phillips, then PWSI’s Technical Director of Coaching. In describing some of the techniques that the players were not learning, Lincoln exclaimed loudly, "If they didn’t learn it, then you didn’t teach it."

So it is with Modified Rules. If the referees don’t know the Modified Rules then we haven’t taught it.

Our goal for 2008 is simple. Referees must know and apply the Modified Rules to the U08s, 09s, 10s, 12s, and above.

I have asked our newest State Referee, Jim Griffin, to study other clubs as to how they ensure their referees are ready for their assignments. Our normal course of progression for new referees is to be an AR on a U12 match and then move to be a middle on a U10 or U09 match. Yet we make no effort to see if the refs know the Modified Rules that they must apply.

I’ve asked Jim to consider being PWSRA’s Referee Evaluator or assist in helping me find one for the association. The Referee Evaluator will ensure that the referees know PWSI’s Modified Rules before being assigned as a middle on one of these games.

If we allow new refs to pass the course with less than a 75, or send a new ref to the field without knowing the Modified Rules, they will be lost. While the overwhelming number of soccer parents are kind individuals, there will be some who express their frustration towards a ref who doesn’t know the rules. When this happens, the referee gets frustrated and wants to quit. Some do.

As an association, we have to make sure all refs are ready for their next assignments. Jim will be helping us put a process in place so we can test new referees. Referees will not be getting assignments until they demonstrate a knowledge of Modified Rules as well as passing their USSF certification course. We intend to print Modified Rules on a laminated card that referees can carry with them in their wallet. We must ensure that our refs know and enforce not just the Laws of the Game but the Modified Rules for the ages they are working.

We are hopeful that this initiative will make PWSRA and PWSI and even better place to referee than it has been in the past. We look forward to a great 2008!

Barry L Sherry
PWSRA/PWSI Head Referee
December 31, 2007

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