Wednesday, November 9, 2011

... they just fade away ...

For those who are not familiar with the quote, it is from General MacArthur in his farewell speech to the US Senate when he retired from his better than half century of military service to the United States. His full quote is "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

I picked up the quote when reading Velo News about the crop of 2011 pro cycling retirees, among them is Lance Armstrong. End of an era for sure in pro cycling. He like MacAuthur will never die, but just fade.

It also had me reflecting on the season and that we are coming time to have mandatory retirement from the FIFA list for those who have reached 45 years of age. Most notable for me last year was Tom Supple who I wrote about in Celebrating an outstanding career, and a friend.

The USA list of FIFA referees and ARs can be found here, and based on age, it looks like AR Chris Strickland is coming off the list this year.

Now after a lifetime of climbing the refereeing ranks that a retiring referee would be showered with laurels and made to feel appreciated for their service to US Soccer. After all they have reached the apex of refereeing in the world, and have done so for US Soccer.

It is my experience and observation however ... not so much.

Some former FIFA referees certainly contribute greatly to the professional leagues, either actively by continuing to work them, or indirectly as with their experience they can work as National Assessors and Instructors. To have former National and FIFA referees undertake these roles, nearly exclusively, is a very positive policy that US Soccer has undertaken. 

That said of a good first step, it is my opinion US Soccer needs to better engage its "retired" refereeing population in each state to fully utilize their abilities that in some cases have been left adrift with much to offer at the National level.

In this way, if done properly, former FIFA referees don't die, nor fade, but stay in the respected position they have earned over a lifetime of service and continue to contribute along the way.

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