PLAYERS 26,430                                                                     TEAMS  1,762        




SECRETARY                                   TREASURER


AYSO had accomplished many objectives by the year 1973 and with its continuing Americanization of the youth sport, the advantageous impact of not having an “old country tradition,” many potential improvements were to be accomplished further by mix of “old country” knowledge and “new country” needs for advancing the sport and acceptance by the non-soccer American public. Internationally, soccer was flourishing despite low scoring, officiating difficulties, "difficult" players who presented major visible incidents, and fans who would erupt as a result. Youth soccer provides a great opportunity to have "fair play" resulting in "fair play" at all levels.  The parents of AYSO wanted their offspring to learn leadership skills through the sport of soccer and not to have a "few rowdies" disadvantage the opportunity. One great benefit of  AYSO is the "forward-looking" attitude of the parents of AYSO players. In order to accomplish the maximum benefits of youth soccer, the law enforcers, the referees, needed special attention. To coach a youth soccer team is a great pleasure with direct satisfaction on how the team and individual players therein grow; satisfaction is readily evident. The referee also has tremendous rewards; to supervise a soccer game within the laws of the sport provides satisfaction, especially in a contest amongst the youth. Unfortunately, in every game there is a losing team and too often "someone" must be blamed. In those games,where the winning team was noticeably playing better, the coaches and players will accept the final result, within reason. With Balanced Teams competition, play was equalized and quite often, a referees decision was found faulty by the losing coach and/or the losing team. The correctness of the referee's decision did not enter the discussion, the referee was guilty. AYSO  parents, in most cases, understood this life education factor in youth sports. However, the players, in watching professional soccer on television witnessed a different game in that "many wrongs" were not either seen by the referee or that the players intentionnally disadvantaged the sport of soccer. In the beginning of AYSO  with a limited number of teams and former foreugn soccer players available to ref, the refereeing was more than adequate. However, as AYSO grew rapidly, AYSO and her early pioneers were confronted with many refereeing difficulties especially at the availability of physically conditioned referees.
The One referee system with a single ref who usually worked full time and was physically disadvantaged to meet the full requiremnents of a day of many games to ref was destined to have "controversial games." The Two Refs on the Field of play provided some relief despite the "cry of traditionalists" who insisted in the international affiliated way of One Ref on the field of play. One of the most grievious situations occurred when a new "learning" ref officiated his first games and the coaches' training was offset not by the opposing players but that "questionable" referee's decision. AYSO parents were concerned for the "lessons of fair play" being set aside by the "quality and quantity" of referees who were disadvantaged by the Mechanics of the Referee' systems. Adding to the problem was the soccer traditionalists who required the professionnaly accepted One Ref System despite the "learning status" of the first time referees at the youth level.  AYSO  regional commissioners acknowledged that referee schools were to be prioritized but still the ref problems presented a dilemma in achieving the best of quality play.      

Looking back to assist in solving the referee problems, it took a riot, of all things, named the WATTS RIOTS in the Watts section of Los Angeles to provide the opportunity to test a much needed improvement in the worldwide soccer refereeing mechanics. The Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to inaugurate the “WATTS SUMMER GAMES’ to heal the wounds of the WATTS RIOTS. Urban youth teams and suburban youth teams of high school age were to come together via fair play in multiple sports of which one was to be soccer.

Roger Bryant, of South Torrance High School, the president of the soccer coaches Southern Section of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIFSS), was appointed the head of the soccer competition in the WATTS SUMMER GAMES. Knowing that the CIFSS had an excellent cadre of soccer officials, bred in many years of AYSO and high school soccer experience, Roger called Joe Bonchonsky, president of SCSOA (high school and college soccer officials association)  to be the chief of referees for the soccer portion of the WATTS SUMMER GAMES.

This opportunity, not bound by FIFA soccer referee mechanic requirements, permitted Joe and Bryant to conduct an experiment not only to assist in the AYSO training of referees but also to combat the worldwide “very poor” impression of soccer referees especially at the lower semi-pro level of soccer play.  First, it must be stated that when eleven top pros play against eleven top pros with national pride on the line at World Cup games, most games are well officiated because of the players’ national objectives, character, and attitude. However, even in this case, too many games have been decided by the lack of good soccer refereeing mechanics in games reffed by one ref on the field of play. For those many games decided by the unseeing eyes of one ref, after coaches and players have trained and competed for years to reach the desired level of competition, the soccer ref mechanics of one ref on the field of play, will continue the sport of soccer from reaching the proper level of fair play and goals scored that will capture the hearts and love of American fans. Albeit, the top level games of world soccer suffers the least, the many different levels of soccer play where more than one ref is most needed, soccer receives very little comfort because “TRADITION TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER FAIR PLAY.”

In the WATTS SUMMER GAMES,  tradition was replaced by concern for the health of the sport and Joe Bonchonsky wrote the soccer mechanics to be used by three refs on the field (TROF). Joe was initially concerned (since 1967) for AYSO games where first time refs took the field as the One Referee. While two refs was an economical improvement over one ref and two linesman, other than having older (as a result, more experienced) men continue reffing, a more effective ref system was obviously a worldwide requirement, except to soccer purists who would accept game results of unfair officiating. The Three Refs on the Field, (TROF) first used in the Watts Summer Games with excellent results (not even one red card) would become the training system to introduce new, inexperienced first time refs into AYSO to solve the refereee shortage and without destroying the fairness of play in the sport of soccer by a learning new ref.   The Three Refs On the Field (TROF) soccer mechanics system is included herein as an attachment.    

Joe Bonchonsky, president of the Southern California Soccer Officials Association, a division of the NISOA (National), would prepare one chapter in Paul and Larry Harris’ soccer officiating book, properly titled, “FAIR OR FOUL,” and the soccer refereeing mechanics would be made known throughout the Americas in the 1970s. 

Paul Harris, Larry Harris (no relationship, both of Manhattan Beach) and Joe Bonchonsky would have the opportunity to demonstrate the TROF (Three Refs On the Field) to England’s Ken Aston when he was the Prime Referee Instructor for FIFA. The first pro TROF soccer game (pre-season) was between the NASL California Surf  and the Los Angeles Aztecs (coached by Terry Fisher). During the game, a Surf discontented player waylaid an Aztec player while the ball was going forward of the central ref but the trailing ref was behind the foul. A red card emerged from the trailing ref and justice was served. The chance of this punishment being administered in the One Ref System of mechanics would not be the fault of the ref but a fault of the system of mechanics (location of ref with respect to the action of play on the field). Ken Aston, an AYSO Hall of Famer who has made known his applause for the AYSO philosophies, at this time serving FIFA, had the best and only compliment of his employers, “WHAT CAN I SAY, BUT NO COMMENT.”   The only comment acceptable to FIFA is encased in TRADITION. In these days of electronic precision in visual communications, the one ref system” is taking a battering by the millions of TV viewers and the wide screen immediate replay in our stadiums. “Traditional” soccer management is recognized as the major deterrent not only in the demand for “fair play” but also to be soon recognized that more goals are scored when the “hoodlums” realize that there are eyes not only near him but also in front and in back of every player.  The test results of AYSO referees, Larry Harris, Paul Harris, and Joe Bonchonsky reffing at all levels including professional soccer attests to the fact that when all intentional, deliberate fouls are called (allowing for the advantage rule) less fouls will be called thus improving the highly desired flow of the game resulting in more goals scored.

The true benefit of the TROF reffing system occurs at all levels and especially when a first time “new ref” is not the one ref on the field system. After months of coaching a team, not one single coach should ever be subjected to a game in which his players would be responsible to a learning ref (on his own) and on such a large expanse of land to cover.

 AYSO, in the City of Torrance, implemented the TROF ref system and thereby provided a learning ref in the middle with experienced refs in the leading and trailing locations. Signals were devised between the three refs on the field to ensure correctness and flow of play. The result of having a learning ref “not spoil” a game during his learning period was priceless and most importantly, a strong ingredient in the Americanization via AYSO to achieve "fair play.”

In AYSO, the TROF refereeing system solved a major problem of referee shortages. A parent who wishes to referee finds his greatest obstacle to be that of initially entering the field of play by himself, and due to lack of experience, making an incorrect call and  thereby not providing "fair play" to the youngsters. In the TROF system, the first time referee, as the Middle referee, has two experienced  referees to ensure fair play by having the correct decisions made. Soon, the learning referee became a well-trained referee and the conduct of the game was determined by the play of the players.

The “TROF” reffing system mechanics is also included herein (end of this article) as part of the APAYSO for your review, experimentation, and usage. 

AYSO, initially compiled of many “old country” experienced soccer traditionalists and many “new country” enthusiasts”, catapulted youth soccer into the high schools, colleges, and professional ranks not only by seeking the gifted player through EVERYONE INVITED and  EVERYONE PLAYS philosophies but most importantly through FAIR PLAY made possible by improving the refereeing. While "traditionalists" still believe in the "one ref" system, the American "enthusiasts" who tested the TROF and found the more fluid play to their liking, the sport of soccer moves forward with increased scoring.  

In the 1960s and the 1970s, AYSO commenced the American Youth Soccer revolution not only with many eyes to the youth but also the development of the sport of soccer at all levels to complete the beginning.  AYSO is fully aware that they were not the only youth soccer organization in America and soon the growth of soccer, everyone’s soccer dreams, especially via AYSO, provided the energy to move not only forward but also upward.  Not one stone will be left unturned until every child in America is invited to enjoy new found thrills while not only building their bodies but also to learn the “leadership skills” that the sport of soccer possesses.   
Joseph Bonchonsky,
Apr 20, 2012, 4:01 PM