Ref Profile: Harry

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From player to parent to referee

WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY OF REFFING?

I got into being a refereeover 12 years not by choice, but as a necessity. I started out as a parent coach and was co-opted to being a referee in order to avoid my team being fined $250.00 by the league (WCCYSL), because it was mandated that each team provide two certified referees to help serve the league or be subjected to the fine.

Having undergone the US Soccer Federation referee certification program, I very quickly realized that I actually enjoyed the art of refereeing. As my boys grew older, it was required that, in order to continue to coach at a competitive level, I had to go through the entry level coaching licensing certification program, got licensed, but quickly lost interest coaching and continue as a referee and a soccer dad.

In 2008 I was a District 4 Referee of the Year nominee, and upgraded to Grade 7 in 2010. I was awarded the Mustang Youth Soccer League (one of the largest youth soccer leagues in California) Referee of the Year 2014, and passed my in-field upgrade assessment to Grade 6 (State Referee) in 2016.

Over the years I have reffed a countless number of games, ranging from U6 to Men Amateur/Semi Professional games, as well as high school and College NCAA D2 games in between.

I have also participated in numerous youth soccer tournaments both within Northern California as well as outside.

I was among 10 referees selected to represent Cal North referee association at the ODP Regional Youth Soccer Tournament, held in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2017.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESSED OUT PLAYERS, COACHES, PARENTS?

Over the years I had encountered players, coaches, and parents at various levels passionate expressions, and as time goes by, as a referee, you begin to develop and acquire different kinds of game management tools to add to your proverbial tool box.

This is made possible through regular in-service training, number of games reffed, working with more experienced referees and picking up good/great game management skills from them, and through regular formal and informal in-field assessments.

Every game, set of players, set of coaches, and group of parents present different challenges, and experience will enable you to know which tool from within your tool box to bring to bear, with respect to managing your game. The US Soccer Federation has given an explicit guideline on how to deal with a coach behaving irresponsibly. The ask, tell and dismiss guideline.

It is always important, and helps to constantly remind yourself as an official, that soccer is a game of passion. This knowledge helps me to manage a coach with an exaggerated passion to remain and continue to work with his team through out the duration of the game, provided his action does not bring the game into disrepute.

With respect to players, the aim and desire of every experience official is to start each game with 22 players, and end the game with 22 players. In order to achieve this I have to be very proactive, anticipate possible flash situation, adequately deal with flash points, identify problem players early and get into their ears and heads, and at the same time maintain a zero tolerance policy towards players whose actions put other players safety in peril, or bring the game into disrepute

Ultimately my responsibility is to ensure that all players and officials leave the field safe and without unnecessary injuries primarily, and hope that both players and officials enjoyed a good game.

Regarding unruly parents, it is very easy. If I identify a parent whose actions or utterances becomes intolerable, I will simply stop the game, walk to the coach of team whose parent is out of line, and request of him to deal with it, and if he refuses, the game is over. More often than not, they will.

ANY FAVORITE STORIES?

This brings to mind a situation I encountered last year during a very competitive boys U19 State Cup Final game in Tracy, CA. I happened to be the center ref and a parent could not just shut up. He was not cheering for his team, which would have been the most welcome parental engagement; rather, he had an opinion on every call or no call within the first 15 minutes of a 90-minute game. I knew that if I did not address it, I would loose total control of the game -- because such actions spread like wild fire -- so I stopped the game momentarily, walked across to the coach and briefly explained the situation to him, after which he yelled across the field,  'PARENTS SHUT UP!', and that did the magic.

WERE YOU A SOCCER PLAYER YOURSELF? ANY OTHER SPORTS?

I believe I stuck with refereeing because of my great affinity for the game. It is the next best thing, second only to playing. All I did was playing soccer growing up. The only other sports I played competitively was representing my college playing Field Hockey in National University Games. Other than these two, I play lawn tennis and volleyball as recreation if I ever have any free time.

WHEN YOU AREN'T WORKING OR REFFING WHAT ARE YOUR DAYS LIKE?

I totally love to spend time with my family and also love to watch my sons play.