Work in Progress‎ > ‎Honoree‎ > ‎

Ken Aston

FIFA referee prime instructors have played a major role in AYSO advancing youth referee skills. The first FIFA ref instructor invited by AYSO was Diego DeLeo in the 1960s and not only did he instruct but he also demonstrated by reffing a few AYSO games for his students. Ken Aston, FIFA referee instructor, from England, took AYSO one step further. While conducting AYSO ref classes, Ken became involved in studying the growth of AYSO and the AYSO philosophies that make AYSO successful. While most of the USA affiliated youth soccer programs were also successful, they lacked the energy of obtaining quantity to result in locating the un-approached gifted players. Seeking the gifted soccer player was a natural by-product of AYSO with their EVERYONE IS INVITED and EVERYONE PLAYS on BALANCED TEAMS philosophies. Ken often re-visited AYSO and developed an affinity to the AYSO youth soccer organizational and growth procedures that were capturing the American public.   


Ken Aston was enamored by the statistical growth of AYSO and the volunteerism of parents to be coaches and referees. Ken knew that with AYSO PLAYER GRADUATES, the coaching and reffing skills would soon reach into the multitude of future AYSO players. In addition, Paul Harris, Larry Harris, and Joe Bonchonsky demonstrated the Three Refs On the Field at the professional and youth level for Ken Aston to evaluate. Ken had the best of compliments for the fluidity of the play and improved scoring when each player knew that there was a pair of referee eyes in nearby proximity and a pair of ref eyes in front of each player and a pair of ref eyes behind each player. The TROF referee soccer mechanics of officiating not only had a major impact upon Ken Aston but the expansion of AYSO with the intent of never having a learning referee all alone on the field of play via TROF during a youth soccer game was of prime importance in attaining FAIR PLAY within AYSO.


To avoid having a learning ref by himself, the three ref on the field system would have the learning ref in the center with one experienced ref leading and one experienced ref trailing with appropriate communication signals never to have a learning ref “botch” a game in which both teams trained hard over lengthy hours. There is nothing more disadvantageous then to have players play their heart out only to find that a critical intentional foul that may impact the game outcome was not seen because the one ref was out of view. Paul Harris, Larry Harris and Joe Bonchonsky have reffed approximately 2,000 soccer games each, at the AYSO youth, international youth, high school, college, and professional (coach Terry Fisher’s pre-season La Aztec games) soccer games.  Ken Aston experienced the best of officiating performance not because the refs were qualified but that the Three Ref On the Field system allowed the players to perform to the best of their abilities. TROF studies revealed that more goals were scored when the TROF system was employed simply because the players were aware that negative tactics did not succeed. The major benefits of the TROF system are not only in training refs but the levels of soccer where ruffians dominate are in dire need of fairness.


One of the major benefits of the Three Refs On the Field system is acknowledged when the One Ref system is compared to the TROF system. In the One Ref System, the ref is usually a younger man and therefore experience limited. The One Ref must run at least 7 miles to fulfill his territorial responsibilities in a quality game. The historical evidence of missed calls (Maradona, Henry, etc.) have placed a major decay on those teams who have trained for months if not years to be turned back by the use of “tradition” instead of “fair play” in the world’s sport of soccer. It is not the fault of the one referee simply because he would have called those intentional fouls, if seen. The financial economics of the One Ref system keeps it alive but the cost is too high.


AYSO is fully occupied in not only teaching the playing skills of soccer but also in the preparation of youth in learning to play a sport were fairness is of prime importance. The fact that AYSO is not conflicted with affiliated tradition and, most importantly, developing the foundation of skills in achieving the highest quality of play, the TROF system of refereeing has been tested at all levels and the results are magnificent not only in the quality of play but the improvement in fluidity in a non-stop contest.


The wrongs of the TROF System are listed by the traditionalists who will not even test it. The statement that the three different refs have varied interpretations of some fouls and that is true. However, with an extended ref life of three older refs, the decisions were most compatible and appropriate; the difference was far superior to the one ref with lesser experience. The statement that the TROF system will initiate time interruptions is also “potentially” true. The “traditionalists” are entitled to their energy to preserve the “old country ways” but in America the cry for more goals will not be attained by the traditionalists who fully accept the 0-0 tie. True, the cost of three refs on the field is higher but the price for soccer’s success in America does not impact AYSO where the three refs are volunteers and “crime does not pay” is taught at the earliest of ages. The number of games that are “tainted” by the one ref system are usually the result of poor reffing mechanics and not the abilities of a single referee.  


The two-ref system dominates the American college scene but with the older more experienced players, the TROF system will provide the most important ingredient in college soccer, “players decide the end result of the American soccer sport, not tradition, nor referees out of view.” 


Ken Aston provided an excellent example of studying AYSO youth soccer and its influence on traditionalists who took the time to witness the American interpretations of procedures that would succeed in America. In experiencing the TROF system being illustrated even at the professional level, Ken Aston not only praised the fluidity but also the ease of a working relationship by three experienced referees who were not influenced by tradition.  True, the three men, in the TROF demonstration to Ken Aston had worked together for many years as a team and the soccer mechanics of their location on the field of play with respect to the action of play was influential not only in the officiating of the game but also the impact on the player who wanted to perform at his best. 


Ken Aston was honored by his induction into the AYSO National Hall of Fame not only because of his high stature in the world of soccer referees but also that he instructed his FIFA associates of the AYSO success stories. Ken Aston stood firm on informing his FIFA colleagues of the AYSO PHILOSOPHIES that he appreciated in AYSO’S growth of youth soccer that was capturing the American public. Ken Aston is a classic example of men and women who honored AYSO with their foresight and attention; and we honor Ken Aston as an AYSO PIONEER HONOREE.