A YOUNG Suffolk referee will join AFC Sudbury Academy on their third annual tour to America next week.
Seventeen-year-old Stephen Clarke will be spending the week with the AFC Sudbury Academy squad in the city of Temecula in California.
The idea was the foresight of Academy Director at AFC Sudbury Danny Laws, who said: “We wanted to expand the great experience that the players receive when playing overseas to the local referees.
“I started to ask around my contacts and Jonathan Warnock at Sporting 87 mentioned Stephen to me. I think he is really brave and ambitious at 17 years to take up this opportunity and proves he considered his craft seriously.”
Stephen will officiate at the South West Soccer Club Summer Classic Tournament which caters for both female and male players between the ages of Under-13-Under-19.
It will be the first time he has officiated in the USA but he does have some overseas experience. He will also officiate in the two warm-up games scheduled pre-tournament.
Stephen, who lives in Mildenhall and studies at Mildenhall College Academy Sixth Form, said: “I have been refereeing since I was 14 and am currently a Level 7 referee.
“I am really looking forward to the trip and look to gain valuable experience from it and developing my own game whilst abroad.”
The party of 29 includes 22 players, six staff and one referee and will provide both playing and cultural experiences.
Based in the City of Temecula, plans to visit San Diego and Los Angeles for matches and an MLS game make up the itinerary for the week.
AFC Sudbury Academy are pictured above celebrating their 3-1 victory over Bury Town in this season’s Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Final at Colchester United FC. Photograph courtesy of Christiaan Partridge.