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2012 Nike International Friendlies

Platinum Program Referees Benefit From 2012 Nike International Friendlies Evaluation

Florida-Based Cedric Adams and Lance VanHaitsma Discuss Experience Officiating U-17 International Matches at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Florida-Based Cedric Adams and Lance VanHaitsma Discuss Experience Officiating U-17 International Matches at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

The 2012 Nike International Friendlies and Development Academy Showcase wrapped up at the start of December in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and referees involved in the Platinum Program benefited from the extensive evaluation process.

As previous Nike International Friendlies have shown, the event has been a regular stomping ground for officials who are looking to make a professional and international leap in their refereeing assignments, and those who were on hand at the 2012 event saw the value along the way.

“I attended the Nike Friendlies in 2007 as a Grade 7 before the Academy was in place and was a local helper,” said Lance VanHaitsma, a 2013 National Candidate from Lake Worth, Fla., and the head official of the Brazil U-17 team’s 6-2 outburst against Turkey’s U-17s on Dec. 2. “To get the experience now was icing on the cake. The notes each one of the members took and shared with each other were very extensive. I felt that from when I arrived on Tuesday night and left on Sunday evening, I was hands-down a better referee having worked at this event.”

“It was a great experience working international matches and that atmosphere with the crowd and tournament setting,” said Cedric Adams, a 2013 National Candidate referee who worked the center for the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team’s 4-1 win against Turkey’s U-17s on Nov. 30. “Watching the game afterward, debriefing with our assessor and having the video breakdown were great.”

The video evaluation process for Adams and VanHaitsma was something that neither had experienced.

“We went through an amazing amount of detail,” Adams said. “That was my first experience with the video breakdown in a group setting with all of the referees and the panel there, so it was rewarding getting that perspective. Usually it’s just from one assessor, but with 12 of us referees and another six on the panel, you had 18 different opinions and suggestions on ways to improve in certain areas.”

“With the video analysis, you essentially would take points of the video and dissect it for 30-40 minutes, talk about team strategy and working with international players,” VanHaitsma said. “The round table discussion was professional and the panel’s international knowledge was very helpful.”

It was also many officials’ first foray working among various cultural elements in the international field.

“There are a lot of different cultures at the school I teach at and the leagues in Miami and Fort Lauderdale,” VanHaitsma said. “But this was something different and it was a little more out of my element. There was a little bit of a language barrier, but in talking with my mentors, we’d get some perspective and input on how to overcome those things.”

“It was something was talked about as a crew beforehand,” Adams said. “There were not a lot of us who have experienced an international match and cultural language barriers. When you discuss the methods to overcome those barriers, the key is to try and not make things too complicated. The laws of the game are universal, so you stick to the laws of the game and focus on positioning, the use of the whistle and body language. Everyone has the same understanding.”

Adams and VanHaitsma have been involved in Development Academy events in recent years, including showcase and playoff settings, as well matches at the USL PRO level. But with the full analytical panel on hand and the high caliber of international competition, every referee knows the Nike International Friendlies event is an integral factor toward making a leap to a higher level of officiating.

“If you look at the history of the event and the officials who are either in their first, second or third year in MLS, this is definitely the path they took,” Adams said. “U.S. Soccer and MLS have definitely gone through a transition period with the formation of the PRO (Professional Referee Organization), and we’re in development to push toward becoming a professional referee. It’s something I’m striving for and if given the right opportunity I hope to make the most of it.”