Every year, CONCACAF organizes a course for elite level referees in the United States. This includes all the referees who participate in tournaments in CONCACAF like the Champions League, Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. This year, prior to the 2009 Gold Cup, six U.S. referees were invited, of which three are participating in the Gold Cup—Terry, Jair and CJ Morgante. The rest of us had the pleasure of being part of such an important event that took place in Long Beach, California June 28-July 1.
All the referees who were invited from other countries arrived a day earlier. On June 28, we started the activities with a warm welcome from instructors and information about the fitness test we would have to take the following day. Around noon we went to the Home Depot Center to check out the fields. We did some stretching and light fitness for approximately two hours, so that are bodies didn’t go straight from travel into the fitness test the next morning.
On the following day, Monday, the first group arrived at the HDC around 7: 15 in the morning for fitness testing. After a twenty minute warm-up, we began with six repetitions of 40 meters every 6.2 seconds, and after that 12 laps around the track, with an added repetition every two laps. Each added repetition was to run 150 meters in 30 seconds as we went around the track for that lap, with a recuperation time of 35 seconds each in between each sprint. Once everyone was done, we headed to the hotel to continue with lessons in the classroom. By viewing videos of game situations like serious foul plays, violent conduct, diving, positioning on the field of play, and game management situations, we had the opportunity to study common mistakes and ask questions of our instructors, who would later on be issuing exams on the topics we had covered. With short breaks between classroom sessions and lunch, we usually finished our day around 6 p.m. The next day we started the activities again at 6:30 a.m. with some stretching, in the gym and the pool, to recover from our fitness test from the prior day. We then went back to the classroom sessions.
On the last day, Wednesday, we went to the field to do some training sessions on team work, communication, and positioning. Around 7 we had a special dinner, sort of a closing ceremony, giving a good bye to each one of us. It was a wonderful experience for all of us, and no doubt helped improve all of us referees so that we can continue to officiate big matches in CONCACAF.
-U.S. Referee Baldomero Toledo