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New Referee Program Director Puts Washington On Cutting Edge of Development

In any organized soccer game, there are usually three teams on the pitch, each of which play a vital role in the game — two teams of players, and one team of referees.

Historically, significant amounts of time, money and energy have been devoted to developing players. We spend countless hours making sure our teams of players know what to do in every situation on the pitch, teaching them the physical, tactical and psychological skills they need to perform at their absolute best when making split-second decisions at full speed.

Starting this winter, Washington Youth Soccer will begin to do the same for our teams of referees.

Our first step in this process is the appointment of Will Niccolls to the newly created position of Referee Program Director. In this new position, he will oversee all of Washington Youth Soccer's officiating programs and referee development, with a focus on the areas of consistency, preparation, knowledge and understanding, passion, control and respect.

Just as U.S. Soccer put a priority on referee development in 2007 with the creation of the Development Academy, so will the creation of the position of Referee Program Director allow us to provide the necessary attention, education and recognition for our referees to be successful.

A longtime professional and collegiate referee in Washington and beyond, Niccolls will work with the Technical Department to improve refereeing standards statewide through courses, seminars, up-to-date training programs and materials, and other initiatives designed to prepare both male and female referees at all levels of our organization.

Part of Will's duties as Referee Director will include developing referees through State Cups, Elite Player Development (EPD) events and training, young referee early identification, referee outreach, mentorship and retention, plus conducting training and development workshops.

Already, work is in progress on a Referee Development Pathway (similar to Washington Youth Soccer's Player Development Pathway), while plans are also in place for Referee Development Academies and the further inclusion and expansion of U.S. Soccer initiatives at the local level.

Will brings enthusiasm, passion and drive and will be a great addition to our department. It's time in the modern game that player development, coaching development and referee development be a part of the same program and work towards Washington Youth Soccer's mission in regards to the development of the game.

Please join me in welcoming Will Niccolls to the Washington Youth Soccer family. We look forward to the ongoing development of our referees as we continue to lead the nation in the implementation of forward-thinking initiatives for the training, education and development of our players, coaches and officials.

For further information please contact Will Niccolls, referee@washingtonyouthsoccer.org