Referees play one of the most vital roles on the pitch. One good or bad call has the potential to turn the tide of a game within seconds. Whether you’re a parent, player, or coach, you’ve seen great referees and not-so-great referees. If you’ve ever thought to yourself (or heard someone else say),
“He should have made a call. That was so obvious!”
“That was a great call. I would have done the same thing.”
“I wish I could be more involved or give back to my child’s team…”
Then you or that person should consider becoming a grassroots referee with your local state referee association or committee (commonly known as SRA or SRC).
Club directors, coaches, and parents, if each club contributed at least five trained and committed officials every year, your local referee assignors and local tournament directors would have fewer headaches, and you would have more well-officiated games. One of the biggest hurdles of organizing any respectable event is finding soccer officials who are knowledgeable, fit, and willing to dedicate themselves to the game. Increasing your local referee pool also helps save current referees from burnout.
- When thinking of a good referee, her or she must have the ability to:
- Stay calm under pressure
- Make quick, accurate decisions
- Properly interpret the Laws of the Game (LOTG)
- Physically endure three to five games in a day
- De-escalate arguments with rowdy players, coaches, and parents
- Apply constructive criticism to their future games
- Enjoy the game
If you’re currently 13 years-old or older and have those characteristics, or you’re working on them, you are already eligible to begin your referee pathway. Soccer coaches, youth players, college players, and parents who know the game well are ideal candidates to certify. If you would rather ease into officiating matches, recreational soccer is a great way to refine your skills before working at competitive tournaments.
At a starting level, and depending on your local/state pay rates, new referees officiating 2-day competitive tournaments can earn an average of $300 per weekend. More experienced referees may earn upwards of $400 to $450 per weekend for officiating older age groups or advanced competition. Even better, most events offer gas reimbursement, hotel rooms, and lunch vouchers throughout the weekend for qualifying officials. It is always recommended that you contact your local assignors or tournament assignor for detailed information about pay and travel perks.
Most grassroots referee certification programs include online or in-person training modules on the laws of the game (LOTG), ethics, and proper signaling and uniform. It is always recommended that new referees register for in-person training, if available*, as an instructor will offer engaging and practical instruction from his/her own experiences as an official. Next, prospective referees will complete SafeSport and a background check (if 18 years or older).
Here’s how to get started in Florida:
Register as a new referee at FLSRC through the Official Management System (OMS): http://flsrc.org/register/become-a-new-referee-step-by-step/
This page will guide you through the necessary steps to becoming a certified referee in Florida.
Complete your SafeSport certification (these directions are listed in your OMS referee training when you register with FLSRC).
If you are 18 years of age and above, complete a criminal background check (these directions are listed in your OMS referee training when you register with FLSRC).
Here’s how to get started in Alabama:
Becoming a referee will give you the opportunity to make good money, to thoroughly learn the game, and to build friendships and skills that will follow you throughout your life.
If you would like to further discuss becoming a referee, or you’re currently certified and would like to register for upcoming events, please feel free to email Jessy at email@example.com for more information.
*Most state referee committees are offering online courses only due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions. Check your local SRC for details.