From left to right: Christian Zapien, Brian Cordova Muñoz, Jeremy Hanson (West Region Referee Director), Manuel Fernandez and Eduardo Hernandez
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 30, 2023) – California North Referee Administration and Cal North are excited to announce the following four referees from Northern California that were selected for the 2023 US Youth Soccer National Championship Series in Orlando, Florida.
Manuel Fernandez, Eduardo Hernandez, Brian Cordova Muñoz and Christian Zapien were selected after stellar performances at the 2023 US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships in Boise, Idaho.
Manuel Fernandez statement after being selected for Nationals:
"Like many others, my passion for football birthed at childhood. However, I would have never officiated if it wasn't for a Saturday morning in 2008. As a rec league coach, my father was required to referee. He invited me to take the referee exam together and the rest is history.
I vividly remember blowing my first whistle at just 10 years old. Even the smallest jersey fit like a nightgown but I was just happy to referee. I'm 24 now and found my way back onto the third team 6 years ago. I'm grateful Bob Sabella was my USSF course instructor.
Simply put, I referee because the pitch is my happy place. The adrenaline, the passion , and the pressure to perform - I love it all. I get to forget about everything else and be in the moment. I enjoy learning something new whether it's an U8 or an adult match.
I've been invited to Far West Regionals two years in a row now. My performance at the 2022 regionals left much to be desired. I returned home with my head hanging low after not receiving a final assignment and Nationals appointment.
I thank all the CNRA coaches and mentors who've invested in my development. Even though the job's not finished, I owe it to them for how far I've come along. This year, I look forward to represent CNRA, Cal North and the West region at the 2023 National Championships in Orlando, Florida."
Christian Zapien statement after being selected for Nationals:
"First and foremost, thank you to all of the assignors, mentors, and coaches involved with CNRA for the knowledge and trust given to me as well as my family for always being supportive of my journey in refereeing!
I got my first badge in 2011 at 18 years old after my Dad convinced me to go take the first year referee class in Downtown Stockton lead by Douglas Chard. I was a recent high school graduate who was still actively playing soccer so being an official never crossed my mind. I got certified and started working youth matches in Stockton and eventually started doing games out of the area in Sacramento or the Bay Area. In about my 3rd year, once I joined NCOA for high school matches, I found officials who gave me advice and how to be more professional and sort of urged me to take it more seriously! In 2016, I worked my first final as the referee for the CIF Section finals and from there, I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. I joined the NCAA referee scene and from there, the learning and opportunities progressed!
This will be my 2nd year attending the National Championships in Orlando and I plan to work hard to represent our CNRA program as well as our West Region in the best light! Thank you."