PRO are delighted to announce the appointments of Erich Simmons and Alan Black, who have accepted part-time roles as Regional Development Assistants.
The pair will work alongside Sandra Serafini and Alex Prus, with the aim of identifying, training and developing match officials as part of the PRO Development Group.
Simmons and Black will be responsible for delivering regular match official training, analysis of match official performance, and preparing match officials for the unique challenges, demands and commitment required across the professional game.
A Major League Soccer referee between 1997 and 2006, Simmons later became a national assessor and has been involved with PRO since its inception. Black turned professional in 2002 and joined the list of FIFA referees five years later. The Northern Irishman was a member of the UEFA Young Talents and Mentors Program, and has progressed as an assessor since hanging up his whistle in 2013.
Following his appointment, Simmons said: “I enjoy coaching and working with the development aspect of up and coming officials who are eager to learn and grow into their full potential.
“There have been a couple of officials in the past five years that I have worked with and watch develop from state to national referees, and even to being FIFA referees, which makes what we do so rewarding.”
Black added: “Even before my refereeing career finished, I have always been passionate about passing my experience on to helping young and committed officials to becoming the best they can be.
“The professional game has changed beyond recognition in the past 10 to 15 years. The attention to detail match officials must now undertake to deal with the increasing demands in the highest levels of the game have meant the advice and help the officials receive must be relevant and up-to-date.
“I feel having recently retired at the top level I was in a good position to give the benefit of what I learned to them to help their careers, and I would like to play a part in PRO producing the next generation of high quality match officials.”
Peter Walton, General Manager of PRO, commented: “As our current crop of match officials develop in the professional game, PRO must have an eye on succession planning.
“These appointments demonstrates that importance PRO places on finding and developing match officials for the future and working in partnership with USSF and the CSA.”