Taylor Bombalski and Ashley Smyda recently attended the 2015-2016 Disney Girls Soccer Showcase that took place December 28, 2015 until January 3, 2016. This event was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. This venue has many fields and courts for just about any sport you can imagine and it was absolutely gorgeous. We were part of the academy for this tournament that was hosted by Chris Kenney. The Academy consisted of numerous top level mentors including Kermit Quisenberry (FIFA AR), Veronica Brito (former FIFA, MX), Sean Hurd (FIFA AR and WORLD CUP AR), Eric Procter, and many other top level officials. Not only did we get feedback from the each game, we also did field training and some classroom sessions to gain as much information as possible.
Over the four days, we refereed two games a day the first three days and only one game on the last day, which were the finals. We either had two AR’s or a 4th official and a center. For the most part they kept us with the same crews throughout the tournament. We liked this because we were able to learn the tendencies of our crews and it also gave us the ability to help each other work on our individual goals for the tournament.
The first day of the tournament Taylor had a U16 girls 4th official and a center with a mentor, Rod Kenney. He mentioned that he doesn’t know anyone from PA West, which was a shock to us. He did a test with each of the referees on the match. He made us start at midfield where the ball is placed for kick off and asked us to take 10 steps backwards. If you didn’t end those 10 steps at the edge of the circle you have to adjust your steps to give the players the appropriate distance on free kicks. Everyone’s strides are different.
Ashley’s mentor on the first day was Kermit Quisenberry. He took video of specific plays during the game so he could have this video to refer to during our debrief which was very helpful. Other mentors at the tournament used this method as well. Some of the personal feedback she got was to go wider toward the touchlines in order to get the best views and angles when the play is in that area. Another tip she was given while running a line was to get into a more athletic position when sidestepping rather than “bunny hopping” in order to allow her to transition quicker into a sprint when necessary. She was able to use this information in her next game and noticed a big difference in transitions from a little change.
On the final day, Taylor got the center of the U15 girls with mentor Veronica Brito, as well as special guest to the academy, Wilson da Costa. He is a FIFA referee from the Bahamas. The advice Veronica gave at halftime was one coach was complaining of their team getting all the calls against them. She said to do some player/coach management and “throw him a bone” give him some small fouls to calm him down. Taylor used this advice in the second half and the coach settled down.
Another aspect of the tournament we really enjoyed was the field training. This field training was administered by Veronica Brito and Kermit Quisenberry. During this session we did a dynamic warm-up, a drill to work on AR movements and signals, referee movements and how to correctly administer yellow and red cards. The drill setup for the assistant referee had us transitioning from sidesteps to sprints while signaling for offside, in and out of bounds, assisting with a foul, and a corner kick or goal kick. They also had us practice referee movements and had us administer cards for fouls. We felt that both of the exercises were beneficial and fun at the same time.
A major point from this tournament that all of the referees worked on was positioning. Kermit Quisenberry and Sean Hurd did the PRO presentation on positioning during one of our classroom sessions which had a lot of good insight. Positioning can be defined as close proximity to the play, having optimal line of sight, showing presence when necessary, and to make the right call. It is also a balance of fitness and anticipation of play. We also learned the difference between positioning and mobility. Positioning is where is “somewhere” and mobility is being able to get “somewhere” (fitness). Finally, we had a presentation on racism by Rod Kenney during this tournament that was very beneficial and something all referees should be mindful of.
Overall, this tournament was an excellent experience and we would definitely like to go back next year. We are thankful that we could travel to this tournament together and be mentored by numerous people that have refereed at the levels that we all wish to get to someday. Other than officiating soccer, the tournament offered discounted tickets to go to Disney World for anyone that was interested and we took advantage of this opportunity. This experience was one we will never forget.
By: Taylor Bombalski and Ashley Smyda