NISOA’s annual general meeting (AGM) is held in conjunction with the convention. This is one of the two mandated Board sessions for the organization and is where we set the strategic direction for the organization and accomplish many of the administrative needs. We had an excellent meeting in Buffalo this year making major progress toward the goals that have been outlined in my president’s message and annual reports – (1) Drive administrative rigor into the organization; (2) complete the evolution of the National Referee Program; and (3) restore the relevance to the local chapters.
Drive administrative rigor into the organization
We brought recommendations to the Buffalo convention to reorganize the organizational structure of NISOA to reduce administrative costs and to streamline our decision making. I am pleased to report that the Executive Council and General Membership approved a proposal to create a leaner Executive Council while providing other volunteer leadership roles to develop our future leaders. This will be reflected in a new constitution being presented to the membership for approval at the next AGM. I am pleased by the progress we have made in not only determining a future structure for NISOA, but also in the progress the leadership has made in driving more rigor in the roles and accountability of each position in the organization. Our clear focus on “who’s responsible for what” has reduced redundancy and provided clearer more timely answers to issues raised by the membership and external constituencies.
Evolution of the National Referee Program
It has become a practice to include a National Referee Program (NRP) academy at the convention – to both reduce our costs by combining AGM and NRP travel as well as showcasing this premium event to the convention attendee. The 2014 program has demonstrated the incredible strides taken by the National Referee leadership. The instructional material was the best we’ve ever produced and the feedback from the attendees superior. The insights and learning the referees have taken away from the sessions should lead to an even more improved product on the field. The NRP was an excellent program historically and now, I believe, one of the best soccer educational programs in the country!
Restore the relevance to the local chapters
The local chapters are the life blood of our organization – it is where each of us first got exposed to the vast resources NISOA has to offer from training camps to educational material. Instructional modules driven to all of our 5000+ referees are best delivered in the local chapter setting where robust and relevant discussions can take place. As a key area of focus we stepped up the level and quantity of material the local chapters can use. Leveraging a library of video footage that we have been accumulating a series of instructional modules were developed and distributed to each local chapter to help drive consistency across the country. Additionally, we have set a very clear and strong expectation that our most experienced and senior referees will use the local chapter meetings to mentor and guide the less experienced referees to help everyone get better faster in NISOA.
As we closed out the convention with the awards dinner where we recognize our “best and most dedicated” – both the referees of the year and the lifetime achievements of our best referees, instructors, assessors, assignors and administrators – I am proud to be part of an organization that has been a leader for over 50 years in developing the uniquely qualified collegiate referee. The history of our organization is a monument to volunteer leadership where the majority of the work gets done based on the love of the game and the desire to give back to the organization that has given us so much.
Hosting a convention is no small task, albeit a very rewarding one. It is the chance for the local chapter to be an integral part of the operation of NISOA and see first-hand all the things NISOA does to ensure we put the best “product on the field”. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the Buffalo chapter for all the hard work and excellent preparation they did for the convention. I also need to “call out” Mark Butler for his leadership in this area and his ongoing commitment to making NISOA an extraordinary organization. Mark – thanks for a great convention – you continue to amaze us! I’m extremely thankful to be part of NISOA and appreciate your support.
Have a great season!