Bennett, Woo Shine at National Camp

Jen Bennett of Boxford joins Rachel Woo of Auburndale as the second Massachsetts referee on the 2003 FIFA list. Woo, beginning her third year on the FIFA list, and Bennett have excelled in the WUSA and other top competitions in recent years. They received their white FIFA badges in Chandler, Arizona at the recent U.S. Soccer's annual National Referee Certification Seminar held from January 23 to 26.

Making the most of their trip to Arizona, six Massachusetts referees successfully renewed their National Referee grade. Claudiu Badea of Natick, Erich Simmons of North Reading, John Matthew of Springfield, Niko Bratsis of Norwood, Gus St. Silva of Waltham, and Tom Supple of Kingston [pictured with Woo and Bennett (left to right)] each completed the requirements to retain their grade 3 designation. These referees worked through the winter to prepare for the national camp and now set their sites on the professional season coming up quickly.

The National Referee Certification Seminar is a four-day clinic that involved more than 260 national referees and other national referee candidates. "The focus of the National Referee Camp is two-fold," said Esse Baharmast, U.S. Soccer's Director of Advanced and International Referee Development. "First and foremost each national referee is required to meet a certain fitness level and, of course, pass a rules examination. This is a very challenging endeavor for everyone in attendance and there is no question the pressure is on these refereesthis weekend."

The 2003 seminar started with Opening Ceremonies on Friday, featuring speeches by U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia and Secretary General Dan Flynn. Among the other distinguished speakers is George Cumming, a former Director of Referees for FIFA, who is currently a FIFA consultant and will travel from Scotland to make several presentations to U.S. Soccer's National Referees and National Candidates. Also in attendance were two former National Basketball Association (NBA) referees, Ed Rush and Bob Delaney. Rush, the NBA Director of Officials, and Delaney made a presentation on teamwork among referees. On Friday afternoon Delaney, who is also a distinguished corporate speaker, addressed the subject of leadership.