Friday, June 15, 2012

Needham Tournament Retrospective

As many have heard me say here, the Needham Invitational Tournament is one of the very best the US can offer as far as youth tournaments.

While not my first tournament I ever refereed in (this was the Framingham United Memorial Day Tournament), it is certainly unparalleled among showcase tournaments, and one that I love to work at.

Don't believe me, let the 2012 numbers speak for themselves:
  • 774 Teams participated
  • Over 500 referees from all parts of the United States from California to Maine and international referees from Canada, Australia, and England.
  • Needham is now second largest tournament in United States with US cup being first.
  • Over 84 soccer fields were used from Braintree to Lancaster, Massachusetts.
  • There were over 40 mentors throughout the tournament to help develop referees.
  • Specialized ladies tournament academy was held second year in a row.
Can you imagine that ... 500 referees?

What an amazing effort.

If you are a young referee looking to do some quality matches next year at Memorial Day, I would strongly consider seeking out this tournament. It is simply one of the best in the country.


  1. Peter, while I appreciate your comments I have to say that for me, Needham has grown too big, and at least from the referee's perspective has lost a lot as a result. I spent all day Saturday working with the same 4 referees in a rotation at one of the remote sights. Not that they weren't good folks, they were, but I miss the referee tent at DeFazio between matches with National referees, Canadian referees, young Grade 8's, etc., all watching and talking about our fellow referees who were working at that time. Just saying...huge is not better....

    1. You bring up an excellent point, and one I agree with.

      Bigger is not always better.

      All tournaments that get big run the risk of losing their "intimacy" when it comes to things like the referee tent, or how referees are addressed (e.g. an intimate meeting v. mass email or conference in a hotel). Like you eluded to, my first tournament experience was Framingham United, which had exactly what you were talking about, a very small group of return referees that grew to know each other very well. I miss that too, and just writing about it makes me want to go back and have a hot dog under the tent between matches.

      On the flip side, bigger provides more opportunities for more referees. My head here goes to something like Dallas Cup where it is anything but intimate (it's all bigger in Texas) but you have some excellent teams and outstanding referees. I'll share my story about meeting Joel Quiniou, and getting locked in a van with Peter Milkkelsen another time.

      All and all, I am torn and ebb and flow based on where I am in my career and life. I liked intimacy to start as it "opened my eyes" to the human side of refereeing. Later the exposure to high level referees and teams was critical to me, and accordingly the bigger tournaments with less intimacy provided that. From there, and like all things, it has come back around, and the smaller and more intimate setting is far more attractive to me now as it is high touch, high impact.

      I suspect you are in nearly the same place, for the same reasons. =)

      Thanks for reading,