The Cal South Referee Spotlight is a feature, highlighting elite officials through the Cal South system.

Growing up in a soccer hotbed like Chula Vista, Sergio Yacopi was introduced to soccer at the tender age of four, playing the beautiful game at his local Boys & Girls Club. After a couple of years, Yacopi moved on to play with Aztecs FC, where he continued to play all the way through college at San Diego State University.

Seeing his retirement as a player on the horizon, Yacopi weighed his options on ways he can still participate in the sport he loved. The idea of becoming a coach was not a desirable one, and he still wanted to be on the field. Therefore, becoming a referee was a no brainer.

Yacopi turned to Cal South to take his introduction to refereeing course back in June 2014 where Instructor Flavio introduced him to the Laws of the Game. The laws weren’t something new to him; as a player, after a game, Yacopi would look up any rules that he would question on the field in an effort to learn more about the sport.

Since then, Yacopi has officiated at almost every level, including the Cal South State Cup, National Cup, ECNL, the now-defunct Development Academy, as well UPSL, youth international matches and has taken part in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game.

“Being consistent is what has helped me to get from one level to the next in my opinion,” Yacopi said. “Obviously training, getting feedback from colleagues to help you improve your skills as a referee, and doing your best are key to becoming a better referee, but if you don’t do this on a consistent basis the chances of getting noticed and moving up to the next level become slim.”

With his eyes set on officiating at the highest level, Yacopi also works to someday serve as an assessor for younger referees, bringing out the true educator in him. Outside of refereeing, Yacopi works with Special Education students at an intermediate school. Once he’s on the field, Yacopi offers advice and tips to up and coming referees that he works with alongside.

Whether it’s on or off the field, Yacopi’s greatest satisfaction is to still be able to give back to his community while being involved in the sport he’s loved from a young age.

“Aside from staying fit, the biggest satisfaction I get is me being able to still be part of the beautiful game,” Yacopi said. “Being able to see those sweet jukes players make, seeing a through ball going between two, sometimes three defenders, seeing the golazos up close and center definitely makes it worth being a referee (all while getting paid to do it.)”

To learn more about the Cal South Referee Program, click here.