North Texas Soccer is made up of 98 youth, 20 adult and five indoor soccer associations, and all of them use USSF Soccer Referees. We have an association that runs five games every Saturday all the way up to several associations that run 250-300 games on a spring or fall weekend.
I asked some of my fellow assignors to share with me what they are most thankful for. What ensures a smooth day at the field? First, there is no such thing as a smooth day, well, maybe for the association that is running five games, but probably not. Their referee pool is relatively small.
It doesn’t matter whether we are assigning 25, 85 or 185 games on a Saturday, assignors have quite a task, ensuring that qualified referees are assigned to the matches. Think about that. For 25–185 games a Saturday, an assignor is relying on anywhere from 15–150 referees to not get sick, not forget about a sports, church or school activity the night before, not forget about a birthday or anniversary celebration the day of, not get injured, run out of gas, get stuck in traffic, over sleep, get lost, go to the wrong field or a host of other things that can and do happen. Imagine the assignor with 300 games every weekend. They cross their fingers, hold their breath and hope that they get 100% coverage and that it’s not too hot or too cold, so referees can pick up “just one more”.
Besides the obvious things that assignors are thankful for (referees who are punctual, professional, improving with each game and are an absolute joy to have at the fields) here are some additional words of thanks from a few assignors.
“I am most thankful for referees that communicate with me the games they want and the ones that fit their availability, it really benefits both of us” - Donnie Stone, Granbury Assignor.
Most associations are using some sort of online scheduling program. The availability is a great feature when used correctly. It can be specific, allow multiple time entries and a note section to get even more specific. List things such as conflicts of interests, comfort level, preferences of age group and competition level.
Stone went on to say - “It normally comes down to whoever will be dependable enough to get back with me, whether it be by letting me know when they are available or confirming their assignments. The dependable referees get the most games.”
Referees, help your assignor out, accept your games or decline them ASAP if needed. “Communication is key to ensure all of the games are covered with referees working games that fit their availability,” added Stone.
John O’Kane, assignor for Plano Youth and a quite a few tournaments, shared a memory of one tournament with games played at 40 venues. Teams from all over the country participated. That’s quite a challenge for all involved. “I’m thankful to work with a truly dedicated bunch of officials that constantly make sacrifices for the good of our beautiful game and travel everywhere to help” O’Kane said.
Most of us don’t have to travel far to do our games. Occasionally, we put in the miles for a tournament or maybe work games at different venues. We are thankful for those who go to wherever the games are. “Tell me where and when”, is a phrase we love to hear.
Referees have all been told, “start your games on time”. O’Kane added. “As Doc Kellogg said to me at one tournament, I have a dream to hear 16 referees all blowing their whistles at 8 am.” This is important. Think about a 14 – 24 field complex, all the moving parts. Games are slotted at 75, 90 or 120 minutes apart. Game day is a machine. Start on time.
All of us who assign for North Texas appreciate the senior, seasoned and respected referees that give back; that set a solid example on every game they do. We are thankful for the referees that are positive, encouraging and help out our newest referees so they show up another weekend and recertify for another year. We are thankful for those that are mentoring the referees that want to move to the next level.
The North Texas Referee program is blessed with many dependable and dedicated referees that have and will continue to invest in every referee.
The assignors for North Texas are thankful for every referee.
Happy Thanksgiving from your referee family,
State Referee Committee