As part of our continuing effort to service and educate our membership, each Thursday U.S. Soccer will provide an informative article from one of its departments. Once a week, we will bring you an article/paper/essay that will hopefully enhance your enjoyment and knowledge of the game of soccer - on and off the field.
This week, we examine of one of U.S. Soccer's suppliers, Official Sports International.
Official Sports International
A long-time partner with U.S. Soccer, Official Sports International (OSI) is one of the finest suppliers of referee equipment and accessories available to officials today.
Official Sports was founded in 1985, answering pleas from North American Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer Leagues referees and filling a void in the referee equipment and apparel market.
“We started at a very opportune time,” said Tobin, now president of OSI. “The referees voiced their opinions about what they wanted, and we were able to step in and help them out and start a business at the same time. At that point I don’t think we imagined it would grow into what it has become today.”
The first OSI uniform was made according to the recommendations of MISL referees and test marketed for six months. Based upon the direct feedback from referees, full-scale production began in 1986, and the company hasn’t stopped growing since.
Now, thanks to OSI’s expanion, soccer referees from every state have access to quality uniforms and equipment through OSI's mail order division and almost 500 soccer specialty stores. In addition to their top-of-the-line uniforms, OSI has an ever-expanding product line of referee apparel and equipment.
Since their birth, OSI has been one of the top suppliers of referee equipment and apparel in the U.S. For the past ten years, OSI has been the Official Uniform Supplier to a number of leagues and organizations, including: the NPSL (now the MISL) professional indoor league (since 1993), the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (since 1996), the United States Soccer Federation (since 1998), Major League Soccer (since 1998) and the Women's United Soccer Association (since 2001). On January 1, OSI extended their partnership with U.S. Soccer through 2006.
Eighteen years after its creation, OSI is thriving as it has never before. What started out as a small business trying to service a small population of professional referees has grown into one of the biggest and one of the best referee suppliers in the nation, but OSI never abandoned its goal of putting referees on the field with the best uniforms and best equipment. The close relationships OSI has nurtured with MLS, WUSA and U.S. Soccer demonstrate that the company is showing no signs of slowing down.
For more information on Official Sports International, you may contact them at: OSI@officialsports.com
To browse through their online catalog, visit their website at www.officialsports.com.
For more information on U.S. Soccer's sponsors and partners, please visit /sponsors/index.jsp.html or contact Mike Gressle, U.S. Soccer's Manager of Sponsor Services, at (312) 528-1264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions can also be directed to Julie Ilacqua, U.S. Soccer's Managing Director of Federation Services. Julie can be reached at email@example.com or at (312) 528-1252.