The North Carolina soccer referee program is nationally recognized as one of the finest in the United States. In tournament after tournament, referees from North Carolina distinguish themselves individually and as a group. Their exceptional performance is not the result of random good fortune, but rather, their commitment to excellence, improvement, and teamwork. Their success is also attributable to the persuasive leadership of John Bouda, a man with a passion for “Safe, Fair, Fun Soccer.”
John Bouda’s exceptional contribution as the State Referee Administrator for North Carolina Soccer for the past fifteen years has earned him the distinction of being selected as a member of the ninth class of inductees to the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the eleventh day of February, 2006.
John first refereed in 1984, was appointed as the Area Referee Administrator for Western North Carolina in 1986, and became a referee instructor in 1988. By 1990 he faced a difficult decision regarding his future in soccer – pursue an individual career as a referee or turn his attention to the administration of the referee program? In a move that would work in favor of thousands of future referees and hundreds of thousands of future players, he chose the later and accepted an appointment as the N.C. State Referee Administrator (SRA). He has held the volunteer position ever since. He inherited a program that served fewer than 300 referees in the entire state and, with the help of a cadre of able administrators, has guided it through explosive growth. The program now has an infrastructure that supports the instruction, assignment, and assessment of almost 4,000 certified members per year.
John was influenced by his parents, Betty Jean and Francis Bouda. Throughout John’s boyhood, his mom was a teacher, his dad an attorney and Boy Scout Leader. When the family moved to Switzerland in 1962, John’s parents discovered that there was no American high school there. Seeing the need, the next year they founded the American International School in Zurich. He found further inspiration for reaching out and strengthening communities during the time he spent at his beloved Brown University. Trained as an historian, archaeologist, and political scientist, he was awarded the Brown University Arnold Fellowship and spent nearly four years in the Middle East following the route of Alexander the Great. When he began to establish roots in Asheville in 1982, he was drawn to the soccer community there – especially by the international and cultural diversity of the referees. The confluence of these dynamics brought John to his role as SRA.
John’s contribution to the game expanded when he served on the U.S. Soccer National Board of Directors for four years from 2001 until 2005. He was the lone referee representative on a Board consisting of forty Directors. He was a staunch advocate for U.S. soccer referees with vastly differing levels of experience, but also became widely known as a Director who could articulate well-organized positions that balance the interests of all parties involved in any dispute.
North Carolina Soccer has benefited tremendously because of the work of John Bouda. He has instilled a theme that guides the referee program on a course toward excellence and service. Under his leadership, there is no doubt about his goals for the program. His mantra says it all: “Safe, Fair, Fun Soccer.”