Tuesday, October 16, 2007

U.S. Soccer Fall Showcase Weekend

From October 5-8, 2007, I was very fortunate to participate in the first ever segment of the newly implemented Developmental Academy Program. The showcase event took place at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., beginning with a meeting on Friday night, games all day on Saturday and Sunday, and concluded with just two games on Monday morning.

The teams that participated were from all across the country including the U.S. Under-16 and Under-18 Men’s National Teams. The games I worked were all very competitive and exciting. I felt the players were placed in the best environment possible for them to not only compete at a high level but also show off their talent and skills in front of the men’s national coaching staff.

This was not just an opportunity for the players but for the referees as well. These games presented some very good decision making opportunities and challenges for us to demonstrate our abilities as officials. The players were in very good physical shape giving the matches a very fast pace. Not only were we being tested on our knowledge and application of refereeing but our fitness was put to the test as well.

All of our matches were evaluated by the top referees, instructors, mentors, and assessors in the country. We were given immediate feedback on our performance about what we did well, what we didn’t do well, what we could have done better, and how we could improve. This weekend was not about passing or failing, but rather constructive criticism and making us better referees. I would say to any other referee that may be asked to be a part of this program that you if you are given an opportunity to participate, you should.

I think I can speak for all of the Southern California referees that worked this opening weekend that we all had a great time, saw good soccer, learned a lot, and are hoping to be included in future Developmental Academy matches and events.

Thank you very much to U.S. Soccer for creating, funding, and supporting such a program and most importantly for including the referees in your mission to improve the game of soccer as a whole in our country. As well thank you very much to Esse, Alfred, Paul, Terry, Nasser, Heinz, Thomas, and Heros for taking time to organize this experience and for helping us all weekend.

All the Best,

Daniel Radford

Monday, October 15, 2007

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Fall Showcase

The thing I liked the most about the Academy experience was that it brought me into close contact with the finest referees in Southern California. Being able to observe so many good refs during such high quality games sharpened my skills and brought my level of refereeing up a notch or two, both on and off the field.

Another thing that struck me was that it demonstrates U.S. Soccer's genuine desire to improve the level of refereeing. The amount of professionalism involved in the scheduling and accommodations, not to mention the number and quality of the staff (like Esse Baharmast, Alfred Kleinaitis, Paul Tamberino, etc.), removes any doubt that the U.S. Soccer Federation isn't serious about producing world-class referees.

Having one of the full-time refs there was a special treat for me. I cannot tell you how much I admire the fact we are one of the few countries to have salaried soccer referees. I can now imagine what it must felt like for the Galaxy players when David Beckham first came on board. Not only did they get to meet David, but they got to work with and learn from him. That's how I felt about Terry Vaughn.