- About PRO
July 4, 2013
The Professional Referee Organization's Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey believes soccer in America has a bright future, and PRO will play a key part in its progression.
The 34-year-old has previously held roles in basketball, baseball and softball, and has also gained experience in sports coaching, working in the field for 10 years at collegiate level.
And now, as a sports scientist in soccer with PRO, Hawkey is relishing what the future holds in the United States.
“It’s certainly an exciting time from a soccer perspective, no matter how you’re involved,” he told proreferees.com.
“You have to really be pleased with what has happened in the last 20 years, as far as sport goes in this country, but we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg. We have some really exciting times ahead in the next 30 to 40 years or so and it’s fantastic to be a part of it.”
PRO is the organization responsible for managing the referee and assistant referee program in professional soccer leagues in the US and Canada, and its key target is to increase the quality of officiating.
Hawkey is integral to that aim with his main responsibility at PRO being focused on enhancing the officials’ fitness, and he firmly believes progress is being made behind the scenes, which will enhance on-field performances.
“We are learning everyday and we are ensuring we are doing things the right way and really helping the guys along. Their expectations are high and we have the resources from our end that we need to help them progress and improve.
“We certainly have belief in the referees. With every new change – and change is always difficult for anybody – these guys are really accepting it and they really want the things to go the right way.
“We will all learn together and make sure we are doing it the right way, but it’s really exciting to be a part of and I predict good things.”
Since his role with PRO began in December 2012, the Sports Scientist has shared ideas with his counterparts in England, who work for the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
That is something he himself brought to the PRO operation, and believes his colleagues' input from overseas has been valuable, even though the tasks and obstacles he faces in the US are different to those in England.
“I talk to guys that work in the EPL that have the same role as I do here, and they’ve been great resources for me with how they operate with the PGMOL. I also speak to FIFA fitness trainers and get ideas from them. As they say, it’s a small world.
“Our model is different to that overseas because of the contrast in countries – England is tiny compared to what we have to deal with. We’ve got a lot of climate issues and geographical issues, and things we have to take into consideration that they don’t.
“It’s certainly a good reference point to see what they’re doing however, and those guys over there have been fantastic, helping me along with what they do and how they do it.
“We have had to add to our model and add our flair to it as it’s completely different here, but that's what makes the job at PRO so unique."