Gregory Watson National Referee Coach of the Week March 22nd


Greg in his own words:

Playing soccer and refereeing has come full circle.  As a youth, I was told by my elementary PE teacher, “Watson, since you are athletic, fast and always diving, sliding and on the ground playing sports, you should play goalkeeper. You are pretty good catching a football so you should be good at stopping a soccer ball”.

I took him up on his challenge and started playing youth soccer at the age of 12 as a GK.  I was the GK always yelling at the ref and “linesman”.  After completing my high school playing years, I was offered a scholarship to play at University of South Carolina Spartanburg to play NAIA soccer.  I thought ‘where is Spartanburg?’  My parents thought the same… I figured, what the heck; let’s give it a shot and see where it takes me; plus, I get free education.

After 4 successful years playing collegiate soccer (1980 to 1983), I was invited to tryout for 3 semi-pro teams (Charlotte Sting, Tulsa Roughnecks, and a team in Atlanta).  These stents were unsuccessful because a puny 5’9 1/2 “ GK was not the image of a professional GK so I continued to play amateur soccer in the Carolinas and later in Los Angeles where I moved in 1990 for graduate school and continued to play amateur soccer until the age of 28 when injuries started to mount.  That’s when I started taking refereeing more serious.  Of course, at the time, I had no idea where the refereeing would lead me.

While in the Carolinas (1980 to 1986), I worked high school matches and joined collegiate officiating in 1985 under the watchful eye of Don Wilbur who at the time, I did not know how much of an influence he would have with NISOA and US Soccer.  When I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 for graduate school, I continue to officiate high school and NISOA, and first registered as a grade 8 with US Soccer. I refereed under the guidance and teachings of former FIFA referees Arturo Angeles and Majid Jay, and former FIFA ARs George Savic and George Noujaim.

In 1990 I moved back to South FL as a grade 8 and connected with a Hungarian gentleman by the name of Jozsef Michna and a Colombian by the name of Alonso Pabon. With their guidance, teaching, expertise and mentorship, I moved up through the ranks and became a National Referee in 1996. During these developmental years, I was invited to countless local, regional and national tournaments at the youth, amateur, and collegiate level, and officiated in the USISL and A-league.

When MLS started in 1995, the league used grade 5 and National Referees. I was fortunate to get the start when the league began and continued to officiate in the MLS as an AR for 9 years until 2004 when family matters and time at home became more important than traveling out of town nearly every other week.

In 2002 I was encouraged by my mentors Michna and Pabon to become a State Assessor in preparation for my next phase in the soccer-refereeing world. I became a State Assessor in 2004. After retiring as a National Referee in 2004, I became a National Ref Coach in 2006 under the training of Michna, Pabon, Don Wilbur and Herb Silva of US Soccer, of which I continue in such capacity to date. During this time, I was fortunate to be part of a select few to be Referee-Inspector and Coach for MLS matches and PRO development group. I was also Area A Academy Director from 2011 to 2014 under the superb leadership of John David McGee, former National Referee Coach, where we mentored, trained and development aspiring officials, of which several moved on to PRO and MLS.

“To separate yourself from the pack, engulf yourself with knowledge, training and education”

Gregory Watson FLSRC’s National Referee Coach of the Week March 22nd

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