Farewell to our Friend, Bill Mason

The piece below is a farewell letter to Bill Mason written by a dear friend and fellow AYSO Hall of Famer, Joe Eldridge.

On December 1, 2019, after 38 years of volunteering invaluable time and talent to AYSO, Bill Mason passed away. Bill loved AYSO and all it aspired to be. In particular, Bill had a passion for doing things well and doing them correctly.

In 1969 Bill volunteered as an AYSO coach and inevitably responded to the need for more referees. He was a natural, and soon developed an affinity for refereeing and, more specifically, for developing and conducting good referee training. Bill’s talents were quickly recognized by Paul Harris, then AYSO’s Director of Officiating, and Bill was asked to join the AYSO Referee Committee as the Director of Instruction and Interpreter of FIFA Law.

Bill designed and developed the first ever AYSO National Referee Camp which was held at the University of California in Irvine in 1978. This was the model from which all future AYSO National Referee Training Camps evolved.

In 1980, following contentious battles with FIFA, the International Governing Body of Soccer, and USSF, the United States Governing Body, Bill was able to bring Ken Aston from England to be the principal instructor at the AYSO National Referee Camp. Ken Aston was an internationally respected FIFA Referee and Referee Instructor. Ken Aston continued, for many years, to return to instruct AYSO referees and referee instructors which had a profoundly positive influence on the quality of AYSO referee training and our understanding of the spirit behind the Laws… thanks to Bill Mason.

Bill’s passion for doing things correctly, was directly or indirectly responsible for modifications to various referee publications. Through Bill’s efforts, AYSO secured permission to reproduce the FIFA Laws of the Game with the AYSO modifications. Bill ensured AYSO was consistently first in the United States to make available the annual edition of the Laws of the Game. On more than one occasion, errors in other national referee publications regarding rules and rule interpretations which needed subsequent corrections, needed no such corrections in AYSO publications because Bill made sure AYSO got it right the first time.

Bill was also proactive in his approach to doing things right and often led the way for others to follow. Through Bill’s efforts, AYSO introduced the requirement to designate a “Technical Area” (Coaches Area) and the requirement for players to wear Shin Guards long before FIFA required these things for international matches. Bill championed the AYSO rule prohibiting the use of tobacco products by coaches and referees, before other sports would consider it appropriate. Indeed, when Bill was asked to assist with a major rewrite of the FIFA Law Book in 1996, several of his suggestions were incorporated including that “charging the goalkeeper” would no longer be allowed.

Without question, Bill Mason was a valued and talented AYSO volunteer and in 1998 he was inducted into the AYSO Hall of Fame. More importantly, Bill was our inspiration and model. We relied on him for guidance and support on countless occasions. We are proud and honored that he was part of the AYSO family. AYSO and the world was improved by his presence and is lessened by his loss. Farewell good friend.

— Joe

  William (Bill) Mason, 1933 – 2019