Shane Butler is a St. Louis native and he is responsible for developing referees for FIFA Futsal in the United States. Coming off his 13 years of experience as one of two American referees certified for FIFA Futsal events, as of January 1st he will now concentrate on developing referees in America for the international stage. I caught up with him at the US Youth Futsal Midwest Regionals on January 14 after he had completed his assessments of four referees working games that day at the Lamborghini Athletic Complex in St. Charles.
You can hear that conversation in this audio link ->
He’ll be on hand at the Lamborghini Athletic Center again for a PAO event that features 110 teams the weekend of February 16-19. I’ll also have details next week on the UEFA Euro Futsal Tournament that begins January 30th, look for both stories soon.
Despite that dearth of activity from US Soccer, the game has a high level of activty. The PAO event is the same weekend as the US Youth Futsal (a private organization owned by Peter Vermes and Jon Parry, who Coach Sporting KC and the Sporting KC Academy teams respectively) that is affiliated with US Adult Soccer. That’s a lot of teams and a lot of referees.
There is also US Futsal, affiliated with US Soccer, who have been in existence since 1981. The organization has responded to the competitive challenge by working to actively recruit leagues and teams across the United States while holding their own Regional and National Championships. Not unlike the fractured model we see with the Academy, US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, the Super Y League and more. The AAU has become active, leveraging their basketball court access to offer leagues, especially in the Southern US. There are also private organizations springing up that focus only on Futsal such as CityFutsal.com in Dallas and SportsTutors in Kentucky.
In Missouri you can find Futsal Leagues in KC (KC League), Springfield (Lake Country Soccer), Branson, Boonville, and here in St. Louis SLYSA and Gateway Futsal among others. The Cup of Nations also has an active futsal league in the City of St. Louis.
It is Butler’s responsibility to try and bring a consistent and high quality referee organization to meet these expanding needs. To that end, he travels regularly to tournaments, leagues and clubs to assess and train referees. One active effort is with the US Soccer Development Academy that holds a Futsal Tournament for the U12-U14 age group.
REQUEST TRAINING OR ASSESSMENT
If your club or league would like to have Futsal referee training, contact your State Referee organization. In Missouri, it is the Missouri Referee Development, found at MRDP.org to request Butler’s presence.
There is one FIFA Futsal referee in the USA at this point, with Lance VanHaitsma continuing in the role while Shane has transitioned to his new development role.
FIFAs Shane Butler (Left) & Lance VanHaitsma (2nd from right) in last night's CONCACAF Futsal Championship play-off pic.twitter.com/BxM61HnDGH
— U.S. Soccer Referee (@ussoccer_ref) May 5, 2016
The primary activity for referees within the US is in the MASL, where Butler was named to the Top Referee list in 2016.
The Professional Futsal League was announced two years ago with a start date of 2018 but there has not been an event or news about the league since August 2016 when an All-Star game was held in Florida.
The PFL held a referee seminar today as part of our commitment to developing the best referees in the world. pic.twitter.com/Pb6cxq9c8n
— Professional Futsal (@profutsalleague) August 7, 2015