US SoccerUS Soccer

Development Academy Playoffs Provide Platform for Top Young Assistant Referees

  • 96 Games at Bryan Park Provide Learning Environment for Young Referees
  • Professional Assistant Referee Craig Lowry on Hand to Work With 12 Officials on the Assistant Referee Track
  • More than 80 Referees in Greensboro Hand-Chosen by Members of U.S. Soccer Referee Department

GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 27, 2010) -- Once again, the nation’s up and coming referees are using the Development Academy as a platform for educational opportunities, learning from some of the top assessors, mentors and professionals in the United States.

More than 100 referees for this weekend’s event were selected by the U.S. Soccer Referee Department, and assessors are available to provide required assessments and feedback during the course of the weekend.

The nine-month Academy season provides a greater number of high-level youth matches than there has ever been before in the United States. With the end of the season culminating in Playoffs and Finals Week for the top teams, the top referees have been chosen to work the key matches.

At the Playoffs in Greensboro, N.C., professional assistant referee Craig Lowry is on hand to mentor young referees who are on the assistant track. Lowry, who was a FIFA AR for nine years, will be watching games during each of the five days, and working closely with the “students” at Bryan Park.

When officials reach Grade 5, they decide whether to follow the referee track or the assistant referee track, based on their level of comfort with each position before moving on to Grade 4. The dozen assistant referees, who are moving through the ranks on the specified track, are working the high-level Academy matches during the weekend.

“There are 12 referees here who have committed and been identified on the assistant referee track,” explained Lowry. “They brought me in specifically to help them out with mechanics, movement on the touchline and involvement in the game, really the finer points of the game and what is involved with helping out the referee, giving them tips.”

Lowry, as well as referee assessors and members of U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department provide feedback.

“I’m able to go around and watch their games and evaluate their performances and what they’re doing,” Lowry said. “Then we sit down between games and talk about what can be improved and how they can progress as an assistant referee.”

Additionally, the group of young officials has had the opportunity to ask questions and receive immediate feedback from the group of veteran officials. There is also an opportunity for all referees to watch their own performance on DVD, with all of the Playoff games being filmed by HiPod.

The Development Academy, near the completion of its third season, has provided a new platform for referees, as well as coaches and players, to develop an environment to prepare them for the next level.

Academy Playoffs continue through Tuesday, June 30, and will qualify eight teams from each age group to Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from July 10-17. Playoffs are the third of four major Academy events for the 2009-10 season, which provide the opportunity for Academy referees to gather in one place along with national assessors, U.S. Soccer full-time referees and members of the U.S. Soccer Referee Department.