I thought it would be a good idea to pick this blog back up where I left it in July, since the CDSRA was quite keen on having Sunny, Sebastian, and myself write about our experiences at the world's biggest youth tournament - the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup!
First off, it's an incredible honor to be sent on behalf of Alberta Soccer, and Canada Soccer as well. I can't thank the RDC enough for this amazing opportunity to be spent alongside my peers.
Since I wrote in this blog last..... I have seen the field on 2 IberCup Europe Finals (Portugal and Spain), met Mark Clattenburg in person, assistant refereed the Challenge Cup Final, refereed the ACAC Provincial Final, refereed the Men's National Championship Quarter Final and assisted the Semi-Final, and assisted on a game involving Whitecaps FC Reserves. It's been quite the whirlwind of a year, but obviously incredibly successful.
I can't thank enough the various instructors and assessors instrumental to my successes this past year, and the years prior. To not risk leaving any of them out, I won't name specific people. But they all know who they are and I am continuously grateful for the sacrifices they make to prepare us properly for these massive opportunities. It's been a long road so far, but they pave the way to make it as simple as possible.
Now, onto Dallas.
While not necessarily the "biggest" tournament in terms of number of teams (I believe that honor goes to the Schwann's USA Cup in Minnesota), this tournament attracts some of the largest clubs and their youth academies on a regular basis - earning it the "best and biggest" moniker.
Our local referee development directors have been helping myself and my peers get physically ready for this tournament. We took a couple of weeks off after the outdoor season ended in November (brrr....) but it was right back to training right before Christmas time. We've been going hard with our various plans, as our fitness needed to be at peak levels a few weeks ahead of normal schedule (last weeks of April, normally).
In terms of refereeing quality, this tournament is a who's who of big names. Some of the best referees from Canada, the USA, Bahamas, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, England, the Netherlands....... and of those, many have worked in FIFA games, Major League Soccer, and the World Cup! Not only that, some of those country's top assessors will make the trip out to offer their advice and run clinics for us to soak up all the valuable information they have to offer. Quite the opportunity.
The tournament participants also include a who's who of youth academies. In the Super Groups, the teams include Birmingham City (English Championship), Tigres (Mexico Primera), Eintracht Frankfurt (German Bundesliga), San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), Fulham FC (English Championship), the USA U20 National Team, TSG Hoffenheim (German Bundesliga), Everton FC (English Premier League), Fluminense (Brazil Premier League), Real Salt Lake (MLS), Middlesborough FC (English Championship), and FC Dallas (MLS). An absolute cracker of a lineup they have for us.
I leave tomorrow (gasp!) at 12pm - flying into Edmonton first, then to Denver, then onward to Dallas, arriving late in the evening. Here's hoping for a smooth transition through all of the airports. At worst, you pack your essentials (shoes, jerseys) in your carry-on, just in case.
Now, as for scheduling, there's no guarantee that I will see the field in any games involving the big name teams I mentioned. We find out our appointments for Sunday through to Wednesday upon check-in Friday evening. However, the goal is to do as well as I can, and hopefully be around for appointments in the championship rounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the 27th. I am absolutely ecstatic to get started and keep everyone posted on my journey and that of my fellow referees.
Hopefully my fellow Calgarian (and Edmontonian) referees can contribute a little bit to this blog. We shall see. If you could wish us all - Brad, Gio, Lance, Sunny, Kurtis, myself, and Sebastian - good luck, it would be very appreciated!
Most of us will be away from Friday the 18th until Monday the 28th. What an incredible 10 days (and I get to miss some school...... seriously, what a great week!)
Till next day.