The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is proud to announce the four recipients of the 2018 NPSL Referee of the Year awards: Michael Dee (Northeast Region), Turan Oz (West Region), Austin Saini (Midwest Region), and Andres Vidales (South Region).
“This season we once again, in collaboration with US Soccer have selected an official from each region who had an exceptional season,” NPSL Director of Officials Paul Scott commented. “They were measured not only by their on the field performance but also their involvement off the field. Additionally, these officials gave back to the referee community, passing forward the lessons they have learned. Of the 377 center referees that worked our matches, we are proud to recognize these four officials for their achievements and success this season.”
Dee (Newton, Massachusetts) works full-time in data analytics.
“I have refereed in the NPSL for the better part of a decade and have watched the league grow tremendously over the years,” Dee said. “The growth, both in number of teams and in quality of teams, has been a privilege to be a part of. Expansion teams such as NY Cosmos B, Elm City Express, Boston City FC, and Hartford City FC, to name a few in the Northeast Region, have built great fan bases in their short tenure. These teams, among others within NPSL, have shown their talent level not only in their playoff caliber seasons and some national title caliber seasons, but by competing and advancing through the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. To be recognized as the Referee of the Year for the Northeast Region is truly an honor. As the competition in the league is higher than it has ever been, it truly makes the award that much more memorable. I would like to thank all my friends and family for their continued support, as well as the assignors, assessors, and administrators that helped shaped my referee abilities along the way.”
Oz (San Francisco, CA) currently works as a Regional IT Manager. He started refereeing in 2007 in Turkey and moved to the U.S. in 2011. He has officiated in all levels of the game and have been involved in soccer as a player and a referee all his life. His ultimate goal is to officiate and represent the U.S. in World Cup.
“I am very humbled to have been selected and only encouraged to work even harder and for the next season and continue being a role model for my fellow officials,” Oz said. “I would like to thank those who have had confidence in me throughout the season and showed their support. I also want to recognize Matthew Buckman, our National Assignor, for his great contributions to my growth as a referee. I will continue learning and improving.”
Saini (Cleveland, OH) started refereeing as a summer job to make some extra money when he was not playing. When he was done playing college soccer, his focus shifted and he became very passionate about refereeing. Being able to stay involved in soccer and give back to the game is something that he really enjoys.
“We do not referee looking to receive praise and credit, but simply just to be true and honest to the game,” Saini said. “I am honored to be selected for this award, although it is something I never expected. This award means a lot not just to myself, but also to my peers, mentors, family, and friends that have helped me along the way.”
Vidales is an entrepreneur who owns and runs an electronic security integration company based in South Florida. He has officiated at all levels, including youth regionals, national tournaments, U.S. Open Cup, Development Academy Showcase and Playoffs, PDL, and NPSL. This year he is working diligently towards continuing his referee development and obtaining his Grade 5 badge.
“First, I want to congratulate my colleagues from the other regions whom I have the privilege of sharing this award with,” Vidales said. “I am extremely humbled and grateful to receive this recognition. I’d like to thank my wife Claudia and my son Matthew for being my biggest supporters as I pursue my referee dreams. I also want to thank all those who have been and continue to be instrumental in my development as a referee. Starting with the Florida administration for their support in my endeavors, the mentors and coaches for their valuable feedback which has been essential in our growth, and the assignors who believe in us and offer opportunities for us to flourish. I am looking forward to continuing my learning curve and working hard towards achieving additional milestones such as this award.”
The nominations were made by the US Soccer’s National Assignors who appoint officials to NPSL matches. These nominations were compiled and reviewed by a selection committee comprised by members of the NPSL and US Soccer. This committee selected the winner of each region. The criteria examined included not only their performance on the field, but also their contributions off the pitch.
Photo Credit: Jim Elmer, Rick Eddy, and Jim Pire