Cal South E-News | February 2013 REFEREE EDUCATION
|An Exclusive Interview with Peter Walton of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO)|
Peter Walton is the general manager for the Professional Referee Organization. Walton is a former referee who officiated just under 200 matches in the English Premier League. Walton has been involved with professional football since he joined the English Football League as an assistant referee in 1993. He advanced to the FIFA panel of Assistants in 1996 and then onto the Referees panel of the Football League in 1998. He accepted a full-time position as a referee in the English Premier League in 2003 and, in 2007, completed the Advanced Course for Referee Instructors hosted by CONMEBOL and FIFA in Ecuador.
Cal South: Tell us a little about Peter Walton and why you came to the U.S…
Peter Walton: After twenty years of officiating in the English soccer leagues, including nine years in the English Premier League, my limbs were telling me that enough was enough. Because of my involvement with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), I had the opportunity to come to the United States thinking that I could make a small contribution to the development of officiating here.
CS: What is the Professional Referee Organization, and what is its mission?
PW: PRO is an independent company established by Major League Soccer and the US Soccer Federation, with input by the Canadian Soccer Association, to run the professional officiating program in North America. Our mission statement is to supply world-class match officials for all professional soccer in North America. We are dedicated to the identification, training, assessment, assignment, and employment of male and female professional soccer officials. We provide our services to North American professional soccer leagues, CONCACAF and FIFA competitions.
CS: What is your vision for PRO for this year and moving into the future?
PW: To cement the foundation put into place last year and to develop a fully professional officiating program for match officials across North America.
CS: How can the USSF referee at the lower levels prepare to join PRO?
PW: Attend RTS training seminars, where the presenters will deliver the philosophy of PRO. They can also visit the PRO website for the most up-to-date information.
CS: How will "new" referees be selected for PRO?
PW: They will be selected through performances as adjudicated by Assessors and also through U.S. Soccer's succeeding planning programs, i.e. the Platinum Program.
CS: What is the training program for current referees working with PRO?
PW: Each official has their own physical training program produced and monitored by a PRO sports scientist. There are around twenty three-day educational seminars held throughout the year that most of the referees will attend. These seminars will foster best practices and understanding.
CS: What is your message to USSF referees?
PW: The pathway to the top is beginning to become clearer. The main point is about performance and consistent performances at each level. Not everybody will make it to the very top but everybody should always give their best, even if only for personal satisfaction.
Don't forget, we all started officiating because we love the game of soccer. Keep a smile on your face and look forward to your next assignment.