Image: PRO officials prepare for their fitness test
The Professional Referee Organization has started 2016 with a very successful preseason training camp in Phoenix, Arizona.
All PRO officials and support staff were in attendance at camp, and FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer, Canada Soccer Association and the Professional Soccer Referees Association were also represented.
Reflecting on the weekend, PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer told proreferees.com: “I have received nothing but praiseworthy feedback.
“I felt there was a genuine positive buzz during the camp and an amazing feeling of camaraderie at the completion, following keynote speaker Bill Dittmar’s heartwarming presentation which touched us all. The challenge now of course is to top that next year!”
General Manager Peter Walton started proceedings on January 29 by addressing all attendees; welcoming the newly-appointed officials to the roster, and congratulating those who have been added to the FIFA panel or awarded promotions ahead of the new season.
The sessions at the camp covered various topics including a review of 2015, with Referee Manager Michael Kennedy and Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer discussing major learning points, as well as a look ahead to the 2016 season and the initiatives in place.
Officials were put through their paces in fitness tests, under the watchful eye of PRO’s Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey and assistant Andy Bosak, while nutritional preparation was also discussed with Sports Nutritionist Gena Wollenberg.
It was an important weekend for PRO’s Evaluators too, as they received tuition around the assessment scheme for 2016. Likewise for Greg Barkey, who now heads the Organization’s Assistant Referee program.
FIFA Referee Instructor Peter Prendergast addressed camp about effective positioning, while Hector Vergara, FIFA Referee Committee member and Instructor, spoke about offside interpretation.
Other guest speakers included former NBA official Ed Rush, who delivered a sports psychology presentation, and recently retired PRO AR Bill Dittmar gave an inspiration talk to the officials.
Giving his thoughts on camp, referee Jorge Gonzalez told proreferees.com: “It’s always exciting and anxious times when you come to camp each year.
“Exciting because you get to see all your old friends who you perhaps don’t get to work with throughout the season, and because you have the opportunity to meet new faces in the Organization.
“The night before the fitness test is nerve-wracking for me and I know many of my fellow referees feel the same. Although this was my 10th camp, I still felt the butterflies!
“We had a great array of speakers with a wealth of experience – I’m sure that everyone in attendance took away positives that can be applied in our profession.
“Now it is time to focus, be physically ready, apply the new and old directives given at camp, set our own goals, and be positive as a group that we will have a great season.”
GM Walton then closed camp proceedings at noon on January 31, wishing staff and all match officials the best for the new season.