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American Youth Soccer Organization Providing world class youth soccer programs that enrich children's lives.

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Referee FAQs

What does a referee do?

  • The Referee’s job is to be the official in charge of the match. He/she is the independent arbiter and manager of the match. A referee’s authority extends to everyone at the field, including players, substitutes, team officials, spectators, and assistant referees. The first priority for the Referee is to keep the game as safe as possible for the players. While there is risk in all sports, the referee is responsible for minimizing such risks from field conditions, equipment, spectators, and the players.
  • The Referee is responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game in such a way as to keep the game Safe, Fair & Fun. The referee is expected to interfere with the game as little as possible, avoiding making calls for doubtful and trifling offenses. Refereeing in AYSO is a challenging and rewarding volunteer experience. Here is an opportunity for you to join the kids on the pitch as they learn to love the “Beautiful Game”. You’ll have a great time and get some exercise too!

Why does AYSO need volunteer referees?

  • AYSO is 100-percent volunteer organization; we all do it for the kids. Each season we need as many referees as coaches, if not more; but refereeing is easier and less of a time commitment. AYSO is about playing Fun, Fair and Safe. Our referee training is what makes it possible. If there is no official to referee a game, the kids don't get to play.

How do I become an AYSO referee?

  • You must first complete an AYSO volunteer application form and be approved as an AYSO volunteer. Once you are approved as a volunteer, the training to become an AYSO referee is provided to you for free. You can get more information on the process of becoming a new referee here.

I’ve never played soccer before; can I (or my spouse) really become a referee?

  • YES, every year we train people like you to help kids learn the sport of soccer and keep it a Fun, Fair and Safe experience. Try it. We’ll help you every step of the way, and it may become a real passion for you; plus it's great exercise!

How much time will this take?

  • After you attend the training course, the time commitments are usually about 1 hour, 2 times per month during the season. We are very flexible to accommodate travel schedules and other children’s game commitments. This is usually much less time than a coaching position and still allows you to volunteer to help your child’s soccer experience. Generally we look for 2 referees from each team so you do not need to ref every week.

I am a soccer player; can I just take the certification test and avoid some or all of the beginning course?

  • Currently this is not an option. However, an online Referee Training course is currently used in our Region. It will take less time to complete for those already familiar with the game or for those who would prefer to take their time and learn at their own pace in the comfort of their own home. Many of those who have played the game and think they know the Laws of the Game are surprised to find out how much there is to learn when they actually start studying to become a referee. Attending a face to face training course with an experienced instructor is a valuable learning experience.

Do I have to ref little kids before I can ref the older kids?

  • There is no requirement to referee younger players before refereeing older players. You may request referee assignments at whatever age level you feel comfortable. Refereeing at the various age levels requires different skills and just because the players are young doesn't necessarily mean the games are easier - they are different! Managing six or seven year old (and their parents) and managing 14 or 15 year old requires different skills. Officiating at the 16/19U is by invitation of the Referee Administrator.

Can I referee for my own child’s game?

  • Yes! It’s most common for a volunteer to begin their AYSO referee career by refereeing their own child’s game. However, as they learn the rules, develop their own techniques for managing players, coaches and fans, and gain an appreciation for how important the role of the referee is to a fun, fair and safe soccer experience, they often find it very rewarding to expand their knowledge and experience through AYSO’s advanced training and certification process.

Can I ref my younger sibling’s game?  How old must I be to referee?

  • Yes, becoming an AYSO referee is a great way for soccer players to learn critical leadership, decision making, and communication skills. You can referee a younger sibling’s game as long as you meet the requirements (minimum age of 10 for U6/U7/U8 games and minimum age of 12 for U9/U10 games). Community service hour worksheets are gladly signed by the referee administrator.

Where do I buy my uniform?

  • Ada-Cascade AYSO will provide you with everything you need to be a successful referee.  This includes a uniform shirt, shorts, socks, flags, whistle, stopwatch, coin, cards, and all other items needed for refereeing. You’ll be issued these items upon completion of your in-person training. 

What is Safe Haven?

  • AYSO makes a commitment to provide a safe place for children to play and compete. The referee has a responsibility to help make the environment safe, as well as fun. To ensure the safety of both children and volunteers, each volunteer is required to take a short in-person or online training session called Safe Haven™. It focuses on safety and appropriate behavior with children as well as first aid and other on-field issues. Agreeing to a background check is also required for each volunteer. Safe Haven™ is a unique program that all AYSO volunteers are required and how we can all participate in making the AYSO experience a positive one for our kids. Safe Haven™ certification is mandatory for all AYSO coaches and referees on a nation-wide basis, and can be obtained by attending an in-person clinic or completing an online course.

May referees wear hats or sunglasses?

  • USSF has modified their recommendations related to the use of referee caps to enhance their support for the health and safety of referees.  AYSO has applied these updated recommendations as follows. If a referee wears a cap: the cap must not endanger the safety of the official or the players, the cap should be solid black or predominately black color, and the cap may display the logo of AYSO (preferred), USSF, or FIFA, but should not display other logos, slogans, or commercial marks.

Are referees permitted to wear a cast or splint while refereeing?

  • The AYSO National Rules and Regulations prohibit players from participating in practices or games while wearing a cast or splint (even with a doctor's permission). However, there is no such prohibition for referees to officiate while wearing a cast or splint even if they are youth referees. The likelihood of an injury to players occurring from contact with the referee's cast or splint is very remote. Some padding on the cast may add a measure of protection.

What do I do if I have a problem at a game with a coach or a spectator?

  • Report to the Referee Administrator all problems, incidents, or issues in which a coach or a spectator behaves in a way that makes a game something other than a safe, positive, enjoyable growth experience for the children.

Who is the Referee Administrator? What do they do?

  • The Referee Administrator is the volunteer person responsible for implementing the AYSO National Referee Program in specific parts of the country (Region, Area, Section or National).  They also ensure all our referees are trained and ready so the kids can play! 

Whoaa, wait a minute: can’t I just use AYSO as a babysitting service? Do I really need to volunteer my time?

  • Yes, AYSO is an all-volunteer organization.  You obviously care about your child. This is a youth development program run by volunteers. Who would be better than a concerned parent like you?  And nothing beats the smiles and “Thanks Ref” after a job well done!  If you think you still aren’t ready to become an official, think again!  Sign up to become an AYSO referee here!

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Ada/Cascade AYSO - Region 571

P.O. Box 32 
Ada, Michigan 49301

Email Us: [email protected]
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