By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
September 20, 2017-Founded in 1976, the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) is second largest league in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), covering a vast area of the entire Hudson Valley, Westchester and even into northeast Pennsylvania. In 2014, league volunteers Jim Purdy, Jim Eleftherion, Enrico Romano and Cathy Romano were concerned that something needed to be done in addition to the referee mentor program of the Hudson Valley Soccer Referees Association (HVSRA) to help league games run smoothly. So what did the EHYSL do?
They sent out the Scouts!
Every weekend during the Spring and Fall Seasons, Scouts are assigned to visit selected venues and observe plus “be a presence” at all the games at that site. Approximately 120 games are scouted each season.
The Scouts, dressed in polo shirts bearing the EHYSL logo, are senior league volunteers and senior refs active in local youth soccer, and obviously knowledgeable about its mission and procedures. The Scouts also bring a fresh, objective view of the venue and the operations there, from coach organization to touchline behavior to referee performance.
“We still have the occasional game that does not go as well as we would hope but when we learn of those involved, we make sure to visit those teams in the near future,” commented EHYSL President Jim Purdy. “I recently observed a spectator yelling at a new, young ref and was able to put a quick stop to it. Our membership is very appreciative that the league took the initiative to work toward making this great game of soccer a truly fun and enjoyable experience for all, week in and week out.”
In their mandatory weekly reports that are sent to the referee assignor and club president, the Scouts give the EHYSL an excellent sampling about what is occurring at every field complex. Such as answers to questions they ask of the spectators and participants at the matches. “How is your child enjoying this year in youth soccer?,” “What are your impressions of this season’s opposing teams and coaches?” and “Do you have anything you’d like to see changed?” It’s natural for people having ideas and concerns not to initiate a discourse if they believe their thoughts to be theirs alone, but if asked, they are generally very willing to answer.
What have the Scouts found?
• On a couple of school-owned fields, they’ve found incorrectly measured features such as mismarked penalty areas.
• They saw players’ younger siblings climbing on, and hanging from, unused goal structures. The Scouts saw what was happening and had the dangers eliminated before tragedy strikes.
• They found coaches incorrectly standing on the touchline and made sure that they returned to their technical area.
• They’ve found some newer referees mishandling the administrative procedures and were able to instruct them.
• They have observed great joy and pleasure in the youth soccer experience by the vast majority of children and parents. And, they have found that a quiet word, to an “over-enthusiastic” parent from an unbiased observer, prevents the escalation into something the referee might have to address.
President Purdy added, “The response we have received to the Scout Program has been fantastic as it helps mentor refs and checks that the behavior of everybody at the field, including coaches, players and spectators, is appropriate. And if the program keeps everybody on their toes at matches, there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.