The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
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What is Refereeing?
Judge & Jury & Goal:
A perspective from outside the ‘BOX’

By... Andrew Castiglione

K.A.R.S. Founder… Ken Aston Referee Society™©
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  • Each week over the course of the season, we receive many compliments and some complaints about referee performances. We also listen to many coaches and administrators criticizing officials – not being in a position to accurately make the call; sending off the wrong player; being inconsistent in their judgment; or completely missing an "obvious" call that everyone in the stadium, on the pitch (except WE the referee team) saw.
  • Some comments from coaches have actually ranged anywhere from: "needs to be more consistent," to "horrible…doesn’t understand the game," and one of my favorite’s, "all cards issued were the referee’s fault." This particular comment demonstrated the team’s increased awareness of levels of referee performances;
    "We [’THE TEAM’] expect better from our AYSO & USSF Referee's."
  • Wow! Teams are starting to notice who is officiating in Major League Soccer and coming to expect more from those individuals when they step onto an A-League, D3, etc. field. Teams also know who the "A-League regulars" are and what type of performances to expect from them. This brings the age-old question: "Why are the ‘referees’ not at the same level in the game?" That is why; this Ken Aston Website is here. WE, hope it is your reason for you being here today, to be a better referee to your region and most importantly to YOU, yourself.
  • I’d like to start off… with 'What is a Referee?' In my experience…
YOU are the 'Judge' of...
  • You’re 2 Assistant Referee’s
    Time Management
    Substitution Control
    Technical Area
  • The 4th Referee
    Time Management
    Substitution Control
    Technical Area
22 Players
  • Environment Conditions
    Field of Play
  • Safety of...
    Field of Play
    Players Equipment
    NO Jewelry
  • Spirit of the Game
    FUN for ALL
  • Sportsmanship
    Mood of Game
    Clean or Dirty
  • Character of Players
    Ladies or
  • Control of Time
    Start of Game
    Length of half
  • Fairness
  • Observation of Players
Coaches of Both Teams, the Spectators, and the Parents of Both Teams

Your Friends on the JURY are…
  • Your Society of Referee’s
    Local Peers
    Regional Peers
    Area Peers
    Sectional Peers
    National Peers
    International Peers
  • Mentors
    Direction for Advancement
    Theory of the Game
  • Administrators
    Fairness to ALL
    Consistence of Calls
  • Coaches
    Fairness to ALL
    Consistence of Calls
  • Players
    Fairness to ALL
    Consistence of Calls
  • Spectators – Parents
    Fairness to ALL
    Consistence of Calls
  • Finally, YOU the REFEREE
    Was the Game FUN?
    Well was it?
    Well why not was it?
They help you achieve…
Your Personal Goals… 
  • Thinking
    All the Time
    Are you FOCUSED on the Game
  • Reacting to Actions of Players
    All the Time
    Are they Acting or Real?
  • Evaluating yourself as a Referee
    Who & What you are as a person
    Did I bring the 'Job' to the Game?
    Did I bring my personal problems, etc.?
  • Empowerment of yourself
    Yes, I can do this
  • Personal Confidence
  • Know your course of Action
    Pre-Game Talk to your Assistant Referee’s
  • Developing Command / Judgment
    Team Equipment Check
    PRE-Game 'Talk' to Team or Captains
    Lay down of Conditions
  • Respect as a REFEREE
    My Referee Team shirt’s are tucked IN
    Soccer Players shirt's are tuck IN too!
    Follow thru of Pre-Set Conditions @ Check In
Which help YOU...
  • When YOU the Referee pass judgment, with the blessings of the Jury, you know those Yellow or Red Cards.
    Those CARDS have a Spirit about them.
    Which brings up the question, what is it meant about 'a Spirit about them'?
I can answer the question this way...
When I attended my first Ken Aston Referee Camp, we the campers like YOU. We had a chat with Ken Aston.
I ask what he thought of the amount of use of the 'Cards' that was being used at the pitch.
Ken Aston the Inventor of those Cards explained it this way.
If you thought of the 'Cards' as bricks of Gold.

Would YOU pass them out to every infraction on the law in a game?

NO, others and I said, we would be very prudent because of their weight and value.

Ken Aston then said if you do deliver or show a 'Card' if effects how the rest of the game is going to be played - i.e. 'The Spirit'.

Ken also stated, if you issue a card treat it like - Gold, money does have an effect on ones influence on life…
The attacker, the defender, offense, defense - Soccer is life is it not?

We ALL said like we had rehearsed it in a group... YES!

From that day forward, Cards I treat as GOLD and they do have a ‘Spirit’ about them!
  • What is a day in the life of an average top-level referee who officiates week in, week out like?
  • Let’s start with some statistics to add some perspective:
  • There are approximately 350,000 registered referees in the United States.
  • Of those, roughly 250 are National Referees (that figure includes the 22 FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees). This means that FIFA and National Referees comprise two-tenths (0.2 %) of one percent of ALL referees in the U.S.
So what are your personal goal’s…Referee? 
  • Going a step further, United Soccer Leagues teams are only seeing about 120 Referees, which equals one-tenth (0.1%) of one percent of all registered officials.
  • Those are amazingly minute numbers, yet some coaches still behave during the game like an irate parent AT an Under-10 game. Imagine what it would be like to have lower-level referees officiating USL matches! Team complaints would be unyielding!
  • Those statistics are pretty compelling, but let’s talk training. One criticism often heard is that referee’s struggle managing the level of a game effectively because they are not fit enough to keep up with play. At the National level, referees often train just as hard as players. This regime usually includes a daily combination of weight training, sprints and/or distance running after working all day at their "real" jobs.
  • What about technical training? Question: How much technical training do referees receive (outside of annual/semi-annual clinics)? Answer: Going out to officiate a match. Hopefully, they have been "training" enough by officiating games that when they officiate your match, they are on the top of their game.
  • However, if referees have had a VOCATION BREAK for whatever reason, they may be a little rusty. Hopefully, it will only take about 5-10 minutes to get back into their sharpness and rhythm. RIGHT? Yah, We all wished. This and the psychological preparation necessary that could also affect their performance (issues at work, home, etc.) haven’t even been addressed.
  • From my personal experiences, I can tell you that some of the best learning experiences (aside from being involved in an actual game) have been sharing match situations with my peers, as well as watching high-level games.
  • Simply put, there is no substitute for actual match experience. I can assure you that if referees had the same technical and tactical training that players have day-in, day-out during the season, the level of officiating could be far more superior than it is today.
  • Beyond the gym or track, there is match day and related travel. Most teams are not in the referee’s locale. This usually requires regional travel to arrive to a match at least one to two hours before kickoff. This sometimes requires leaving work early and drive to the games. More times than not, they end up spending either part or all of a weekend away from home, family and friends. Their commitment and dedication to the game is much more than most players and coaches seem to comprehend and or appreciate.
  • Despite shedding light on all of the above, what gives coaches the supernatural ability to see incidents that are not directly in front of them and think they are correct? How can we as administrators reasonably argue their differing perspectives from the sideline when the referee is on the field of play? How can the region impose discipline when it is relying on video that is, most of the time, below average at best, if any? These are all valid questions that raise equally valid points.
  • Do referees cause players to commit fouls? NO. Do they say, "Hey, he is going try to break that guy’s leg!!!” If a referee lets things go a little too far, it could lead to that. That doesn’t even take into account the importance of the match, past history between teams, etc... Despite all the questions and opinions looming as to who is right and who is wrong, one thing is certain: officials do not cause players to commit fouls.
  • In the professional game, and in your LOCAL REGION, players expect the referee crew to have a pulse on how the game is flowing and exert their control only when necessary. And the players, rightly so, expect the officials to understand the game as it is being played at the youth level on that given day, applying the Laws consistently and fairly to both sides.
  • When a "soccer aficionado" watches a professional game, he or she notices the subtle nuances of the game. The referee needs to have the same understanding in recognizing player’s tactics, flow of play, etc. Those games where all recognizes each of the elements of the game are wonderful to watch because players and officials are on the same page. The players understand how the referee is calling the game and play flows. When the players take center stage, the referee subtly directs them, intervening only when necessary.
  • So what holds in the future? The future depends on YOU, the REFEREE. We hope you take a moment to reflect, that your performance of YOU the REFEREE is not up to par. You know… that's OKAY, you being here TODAY is the best step yet, you are making yourself a better Person and a better Referee, a better Referee Program for your Region, Area and Section. There are 22 players out there who cause mistakes that result in goals. We all make mistakes, we learn from each other, the TEAM. Remember, the goalkeeper is the only player whose one mistake usually directly results in a goal.
  • With that perspective, it is hard to point ‘ALL’ the blame at the referees.
Truly, the Spirit of the Golden Cards lives on...  See you on the pitch!

    ` \_
Andrew Castiglione
Creator/Owner/Webmaster of...
K.A.R.S. Founder... Ken Aston Referee Society™©
Retired - Ken Aston Camp & Pro Referee Camp- Staff Member of 10 years
Creator/Owner/Webmaster of...

Retired - N2 Referee, Retired Referee Instructor,
Retired - Assessor/Mentor Grade 3
Retired - Registrar Region # 54 Area E Section 11 - Artesia, CA.
Retired - Co-Administrator/Owner of AYSO-L@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU
Retired - Co-Administrator/Owner of ADIRECTOR-L@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU
Retired - Co-Administrator/Owner of SOCCER-COACH-L@MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Past - Creator/Owner/Webmaster of...
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