TAMPA, Fla. - With USL Academy’s vision of advancing all stakeholders within the USL ecosystem to their highest potential, USL Academy League Finals will feature the most comprehensive referee development programming of any USL pre-professional event to date. USL Academy has partnered with Florida Soccer Referees (“FSR”) and the US Soccer Referee Program to assemble a group of Florida’s highest-performing referees for high-level games, expert mentoring, field trainings, and video analysis.
FSR directors have hand-selected referees from across Florida to officiate the 2022 USL Academy League Finals with the goal of identifying officials to invite to PRO2, the Professional Referee Organization’s training and development program. These referees have been identified as being the closest to earn assignments within professional leagues like USL League One and USL Championship. Following an online orientation before the event, referees will convene in Tampa and meet the team of mentors who will watch their games and provide guidance throughout the weekend.
Each field will be assigned a mentor, allowing every referee to receive feedback from National Referee Coaches, who will be provided by USL, FSR, and US Soccer. By shortening each game’s length and adding additional time between games, referees are able to reflect on their performances before beginning their next matches.
“We are extremely excited to work with FSR and USSF to provide top Florida officials with individualized mentoring and integrated field and video trainings,” says Drayden Farci, USL Operations and Compliance Coordinator. “Invited referees understand that this event is an enormous opportunity to not only develop their skills, but leave an impression on mentors and potentially earn invitations to stronger competitions, such as USL’s professional leagues.”
Mentors will also note key match incidents throughout the day to discuss in daily trainings. Referees and mentors will regroup each evening to review law interpretations, receive additional training sessions, and watch clips from the day’s games for targeted instruction and reflection. Veo will provide live-streaming cameras for every field, allowing clips to be downloaded and shared immediately following the game.
Ted Unkel, FSR’s Advance Referee Initiative Director, looks forward to the trainings, where he says the “referee community as a whole will be able to witness daily debrief sessions…that accelerate improvement and will prepare the officials for the next round of matches and beyond.” This personalized video analysis will impact each referee’s development much more than traditional training exercises.
Additionally, USL Academy and FSR will be hosting a referee certification class during the event to provide access for brand new referees to receive valuable instruction and experience a top-level environment and meet professionals in the industry. New recruits will undergo a classroom session, followed by on-field exercises, before completing an exam and receiving their badges.
As resources are funneled into player and coaching development, it is imperative that referees receive the same opportunities to enhance their skills. USL Academy is excited to welcome Florida’s top officials to Tampa for the 2022 USL Academy League Finals and will work closely with the mentors to identify referees who are ready for assignments in other leagues within USL’s pathway.