US Referee Connection is pleased to welcome Mr. Thomas Bobadilla. He is the National referee Administrator for AYSO in US.
Tom, please accept a warm welcome to US Referee Connection.
When did you decide to become a referee, and who were some of the influences on your career?
- Thirty years ago while plying in a local league, the referee did not show up and players from both teams asked me to officiate the game. The referee showed up late, took over the game, then he was chased away by players, stay near-by hiding and when the game was over, he convinced me to try refereeing. There were no specific influences on my career. I respected referees, amateur and professional, who respect the game and enjoy the experience.
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the refereeing profession by coaches, players, fans and the media?
- There is no major misunderstood aspect, is more about what the referee represents that makes a few individuals misdirect their passion for the game. Referees represent authority and humans don't accept authority easy, and some really get emotional about it. This is why it is very critical to have awareness/training sessions with coaches, players and fans where they can see and understand that referees are human too and they just have a critical responsibility. This helps coaches/players/fans be more supportive of the referees.
From your perspective as former professional referee. What are the best and worst aspects of being a referee and/or assistant?
- Personally I don't think there are negative aspects of being an official. And there are a lot of good aspects about being an official - making a lot of friends; the honor of conducting players/coaches/fans in an overwhelming condition known as a soccer game, into good behavior under pressure; contributing to the development of kids when you get involved in youth games.
In your opinion, what are the key attributes that a modern-day referee must have to be successful domestically and internationally?
- Regardless of the level of officiating referees need to be good at connecting with people so they can be seen by players and coaches as a partner who will help have a safe, fair and fun game; fit to be able to keep up with play and have a good chance of influencing good behavior with presence; ability to read the game in terms of technical, physical and mental skills of the players in order to apply the appropriate level of foul recognition; and the wits to help resolve conflict before it becomes ugly to the game.
How do you diffuse a volatile situation that you know players are about to explode?
- You have to get to them before they get to each other - once players get mad at each other, even the best referee in the wold cannot resolve the conflict... the best you can do then is damage control aka cautions and send offs. This is why it is critical for the referee to constantly know what is happening in the game and connect with the players to maintain their respect so they will follow his/her lead and support fair play.
What are your impressions about the proposal to add additional assistants referees on the pitch?
- Is good to consider new concepts/tools in order to address key issues in the game. personally I think the two additional officials will help but will not be able to provide a situation where there will no longer be mistakes... as long as officials are humans, we will continue to have some mistakes - the key is to keep them to minor, insignificant mistakes.
Competition administrators need to team up with the referee program and consider more training for players and coaches to help them accept and practice fair play at all times - and those who do not and get away with committing a significant offense to the game, one that changes the outcome, should be appropriately disciplined by the competition administrators.
What do you thing about the ‘RESPECT” campaign that is going on in Europe for the last 2 years?
- This campaign is an excellent example of the partnership between administrators and the referee program. It shows that everyone has to get behind the referees and be more supportive. We need this concept to be an ongoing project.
What do you enjoy most about being in the AYSO Organization?
- We're changing the lives of kids and their families and we have the opportunity to reach out to larger and different communities.
How do you prepare the “To Whistle or Not to Whistle” segment?
- The content is prepared using my experience to develop scenarios that will address issues/questions/concerns that are common to most referees. The draft is reviewed by the subject matter experts in the AYSO National Advisory Commission to ensure the content is correct and appropriate for our AYSO referee community.
What advice would you give to anyone who desires to become a referee?
- Learn to enjoy and appreciate the experience of becoming a student of the game, be open to the human connections that the game will bring you, the health benefits that come when you train to get fit to officiated effectively, and the internal rewards when you help others have fun. What a beautiful game and experience!
Tom, thank you very much for your kind and insightful contribution to our Referee Community.