According to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the role of the assignor is to see “that all referees are provided proper assignments to ensure their development, retention, and opportunities for advancement.” Assignors are required to possess the ability “to assign referees confidently and accurately to matches at all levels using the guidelines established.”
The tools provided by USSF are, as stated, “guidelines.” How can assignors put these principles into action?
It is well known that assignors have the responsibility to find officials for any given day or tournament. As soccer has increased and expanded, the number of officials needed to accommodate the games has not increased sufficiently, and the needs of the leagues are not being satisfied.
Thus, assignors are continuously faced with the problem of finding the right official for the right game. When all else fails, reality comes into the picture, leaving the assignor just trying to “find someone.” But finding just a “body” is usually the last item on any assignor’s checklist.
In reality, assignors are “managers.” They must possess numerous skills in order to achieve their specific tasks. Assignors must be effective communicators, listeners, and problem solvers; they must be patient, have administrative skills, and understand the impact they have on the game and on the official.
One of the many facets of assigning is encouraging officials to seek higher-level games. Exposure to higher competition is vital to the development, retention, and advancement of officials.
Thus, assignors must take a chance on the official who is never given the opportunity to officiate at the next level. Encouragement for all officials, regardless of the grade and other factors, is important and has a profound effect on everyone.
Personal interaction between assignor and official is essential and valuable. Although the Internet has by and large become the primary method of communication between assignor and official, assignors should recognize the importance of the personal touch. Officials appreciate that effort.
It is vital for assignors to ascertain the results of previous assignments. The information the assignor acquires can help to determine future assignments and to develop a training program for the official. This is especially important when a specific pattern has been encountered.
Assignors should expect to encounter trouble and difficult times, especially given the shortage of game officials and the limited time frame within which assignors must work.
“Common sense” is a very critical tool for assignors. They must know when and how to make decisions using sound judgment. The ability of assignors to use common sense under stress or in difficult moments is often the crucial factor in the success of their decision-making process.
Assigning can be a thankless job. But when assignors recognize their contribution to the players, officials, spectators, administrators, and the community they serve, the rewards are evident.