Remembering Our Purpose

An Open Letter to D-7 Coaches:

By Coach Matt Belson

In roughly a month’s time, the opportunity of a lifetime will present itself to you, bringing with it a treasure trove of exhilaration, inspiration, and gratification. This unheralded adventure will last merely a few months, but it will carry the potential to leave an indelible impact on many people. The promise of passing out high quality trophies to the players, some of which are your own, will motivate achievement and feel extraordinary. All of these joyful outcomes are included when you sign up to be a youth sports coach.

Find the fun in fundamentals or be prepared for a long season. Reward creativity. Dish out praise. Build confidence levels. Find your inner kid.

My experience has taught me that the best result comes when a team is inspired to learn, seek challenges and have fun. Here are a few learning’s I’ve found to be beneficial that I hope you will consider. Click here to read the rest of Coach Belson’s letter!

New Opportunities

The new season is nearly here, with it comes new ideas, new rules and new opportunities.

One of the best ideas I have heard is, “No spectators on the sideline area directly behind the assistant referees.”  [See: Diagonal Spectator Viewing Area]. Why is this so good?

Every year many referees quit the game because of abuse from the spectators and coaches. With no spectators behind the assistant referee, the referee will be able to concentrate on their game.

So this season let us all work together to make our children’s experience rewarding and fun, remember many of our children are referees as well as players.



Tuesday August 6th District 7 Office – 4285 N First Street, Fresno, CA 93726 – starting at 7pm

Tuesday August 13th Selma Centre – 2301 Selma Street, Selma, CA 93662 – starting at 7pm

Thursday August 22nd District 7 office – 4285 N First Street Fresno CA 93726 – starting at 7pm



Location   Date              Contact:          Phone:                    e-mail

Lemoore  Aug. 10/11  Miguel Solano    997-9750

F. Metro Aug. 17/18 Russ Gonzales   824-6132

Kingsburg Aug. 31      Jeff Ribeiro        859-5250


Safe Sports Presentation 

Where: Central High School: Wayne Hondo Preforming Art Center, 3535 N Cornelia Ave. Fresno CA 93722.

Date: Saturday August 3rd 2019

Time: Doors Open at 9.30am –Class begins at 10.00am

Fee: $20.00 for coaches & administrators. Valley YSL Coaches are “free!”

Space is limited to the first 580 students of soccer.

Thank you to Valley Youth Soccer League for putting on this event..!

An Initiative that Virtually Suppresses Referee Abuse

Imagine a D-7 initiative for young referees to wear conspicuous colored shirts to act as a visual reminder resulting in a paradigm shift in adult behavior.

Young referees have started wearing purple shirts in a bid to cut out the verbal abuse they often get. The initiative by the Cheltenham Youth Football League puts referees aged 18 and under in brightly colored shirts, to act as a visual deterrent.

“They see we’re kids and we’re not going to get everything right,” said one young referee.

The Cheltenham Youth Football League reported that, “Abuse has dropped from seven incidents last season to just one incident this season!”

The following flyer is used to educate and remind everyone of this initiative…

Players Pre-Game Plea

Fig Garden Youth Soccer League President,  Jonathan Petty of Fresno, California; has the team captains read the following before each game …

Hello parents and friends!  We the players, would like to ask that you not yell at or coach any players while on the field.  We also ask, that you do not use bad language towards any players, referees, or each other.  Please use words that encourage and motivate us.  Thank you and enjoy the game!

Hola padres y amigos.  Los jugadores nos gustaría pedirles que no griten ni dirigen a ningún jugador mientras este en el cancha.  También le pedimos que no usen lenguaje inapropiado hacia ningún jugador, arbitro o entre sí.  Por favor use palabras que nos animen y nos motive.  Gracias y disfruta el juego.

Spectator Line

Why are spectators not allowed to stand on the 1st and 3rd base-line in baseball?

“Ridiculous!” You say?  “They would be on the field of play, they would interfere with the runners, they could become emotionally involved being so close to the action!” and your list of reasons would go on and on.

And yet, we allow spectators at a soccer game to stand-on-the-touchlines which are just as much a part of the field as the 1st and 3rd base lines in baseball.  Why is this not considered to be ridiculous?

For this reason I suggest that every D-7 soccer field mark-out a ‘Spectator Viewing Line.’

Since spectators are off the field they won’t interfere with play and being a distance away from the action might help in minimizing their emotional outbursts.

Diagonal Spectator Area

In addition you may want to consider using the ‘Diagonal Spectator Viewing Area.’

Besides having opposing spectators separated and giving everyone a clear view of the field.  This arrangement will keep the ARs away from hearing snide remarks and give them an unobstructed working area. 

Street Soccer Promotes Sportsmanship and Fair Play

In a time when we look to see how we can reduce referee abuse; sideline coaching from well-meaning coaches and parents; to continuing to improve sportsmanship is always welcomed. In this article, I’d like to share what it’s like inside the ‘street soccer scene’ from the top down.

As mentioned before, street soccer has evolved from the casual, open play to some of the most creative and technical ball control moves.  It may surprise you that the skills and mindset are something that does not come from being an experienced soccer player or the world’s best players either.  MLS, Champions League, etc. some of the top in the world do not have these skills. The learning curve to the top is steep and the challenges are endless… making this side of the sport incredibly fun!  Here are two examples for you, the difference in the technical street soccer skills compared to a top soccer player.

Neymar gets panna’d by Sean Garnier – The street scene remembers this all too well.  It’s a great example of how far the advanced skills have come.  Another entertaining opportunity for Sean and Neymar to share their skills is at another Red Bull event. The difference in clean, technical skills can be seen.

Click here to read the rest of Coach Louie’s tips!

When We Just Might Have To Say Something

Having spent literally a couple of decades out at the pitch watching my four sons play from U-5 to U-19 with one of them going on to ref and to coach, my wife and I have had plenty of situations in witnessing when a parent has “lost it” on the sideline. Sadly, on occasion, I too have been that parent. Usually as a result of undisciplined play leading to injury. Those situations would cause my emotions to heat up. Yet, there’s never a time that is excusable for poor sideline behavior. Despite my imperfections, I also have been that parent who sought to remind others that their behavior was reaching over the line.

Research has been conducted which demonstrates poor adult sportsmanship on the sideline does have a negative impact on the student athlete. From overwhelming our athlete with negative stress, to physical injury, to lack of coping skills off the field. So it is imperative that we parents, coaches, adults get a grip on our emotions and egos to give the student athlete what they’re after, that is to have fun playing a sport that they enjoy.

The phenomenon of “over-identification” is often at the core of poor sideline behavior. A false belief that our athlete is going to make a professional career of the game (less than 1 in a million actually do), or that the parent uses the child’s success to experience achievement they themselves didn’t accomplish, can combine to cause poor behavior. The suggestions below are for those times when we just might have to say something.

Be the Model – First, we must look at our own behavior and make the necessary changes. We should indeed cheer on our team and our children; but when that inevitable bad call comes, don’t degrade anyone, and learn to move on. No amount of screaming at the ref will change the call or the outcome. In fact, it may do harm to the team and land us up in soccer exile.

Don’t join ‘em – Certainly we all have the urge to join in on the mob mentality. But this most certainly can and should be avoided. Rather, demonstrate the more positive side of support for our athletes.

Acknowledge the frustration – Avoid confronting the behavior with additional bad behavior. Rather, acknowledge the emotion, “Man, it’s frustrating when the calls are bad” but then suggest an alternate way of responding. “Maybe we should just encourage our guys to play through, cause, yelling at the ref isn’t going to change anything”

Remind of consequences – “You know, we can actually get red carded for this.” There may be league rules that specifically have consequences for the team for sideline behavior. Know those rules.

Keep coach appraised – Whatever happens on the sideline, coach needs to know if there is something getting out of hand. He/she can remind parents that they are encouraged to support the team, but to let coach be the coach.

Consider talking to the league leaders – In those situations that are a bit more severe. It may be necessary to take our concerns to the leaders of the league. Most leaders are very supportive when provided with suggestions on keeping the league happy and healthy.

Most importantly, watch this video  … And remain the positive, rock solid foundation, for our young athletes so they will grow into well-rounded, healthy, and positive young people.

Play Hard, Play Safe!

Coaches and Officials’ Relationships

The relationship between coaches and officials often seems to be adversarial.  Both have an important and necessary role to fulfill during a match.  Knowing and understanding each other’s concerns, needs and expectations may lead to a more harmonious relationship.

The following lists are a compilation of various readings dealing with this issue and are not all inclusive.

What Coaches like Referees to Know:

  1. Act/Dress in a professional manner. Show respect toward players and coaches.
  2. Have a thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game and mechanics.
  3. Be consistent when making calls and decisions. Show confidence.
  4. Keep the game moving
  5. Look for dangerous situations/plays and strive to keep the athletes safe.
  6. Do not go into a match with the appearance of having prejudged a coach or team
  7. Avoid coaching a player
  8. Referees should not consider themselves the most important factor in a match.

What Referees like Coaches to Know:

  1. Have everything ready to go so the game can start on time
  2. Refrain from bringing up past contests or situations. Officials must concentrate on the match at hand.
  3. Know the Laws. Read the rule/Law book.  Don’t waste the officials time with matters in which you should have known the rule/Law.
  4. At an appropriate time, approach an official with respect when questioning or asking for an explanation of a call.
  5. Respect and support officials. Refrain from indulging in conduct which could incite players or spectators against the officials.
  6. Referees do not openly criticize or insult coaches in front of a group of players or spectators. It would be nice if the coaches would refrain from doing so.
  7. Officials are the guardians of the Laws of the Game and coaches should not blame the officials for enforcing their Powers and Duties.

Coaches and referees should regard themselves as fellow sportsman.  They are there to serve the game and have the primary goals of safety and enjoyment for the players and spectators in attendance.

Know Your Role!

Players Play.
Coaches coach.
Officials officiate.
(From BEHIND the Spectator Line)
There should be very little, if any, overlap between them.
“The outcome of our children is infinitely more important
Than the outcome of any game they will ever play!”

– Koach Karl Dewazien –