When you begin as a youth soccer referee, you may be working with kids at the very beginning of their athletic lives. Our main role as a referee is to encourage fair play, good sportsmanship and fun. Youth soccer offers referees the chance to begin at a young age. Although there is no minimum age requirement, states will set their own standard of what age someone can begin to referee. Youth soccer referees are trained in the rules of the United States Soccer Federation.
How to Become a USSF Soccer Referee
In order to become a USSF referee, you must fulfill a training course and pass a standardized test. Youth soccer referees can begin at either the Grade 9 or Grade 8 levels. Grade 9 is a great place for very young referees to get started. At this level, the referee supervises play between teams in local recreational leagues. Games usually involve younger players with fewer then 11 players per side.
The USSF has no age requirement for new referees. Each state will set its own minimum age. However, as a general rule, young soccer referees in Grades 8 & 9 will only work games of players their own age or younger.
Training for Grade 9 soccer refereeing varies from state to state but usually includes a course which lasts about eight hours. Some adults begin at this level as well in order to learn at a more gradual pace or to work with their children.
Grade 8 referees are also beginners but with a little more soccer experience. These candidates are generally older as well. Grade 8 referees will work competitive youth and adult soccer matches, depending on their ability. Because there is more responsibility, training time for level eight referees can last 18-hours or more.
Because each state offers its own certification for youth soccer referees, a simple Google search is the best way to learn more about how to get started. If you type “youth soccer referee” followed by the name of your state, you should find the web site of your state’s youth soccer association. Here you will find information about training programs and how to choose the right program for you.
To become a referee, you will also need to register with the US Soccer Federation (usually about $40). This fee is generally included with the cost of the training program. Dues to the Federation will be paid before every season which you plan to referee.
Another great way to learn about becoming a youth soccer referee is to talk to a referee that works games in your own local leagues. Local referees are usually more than happy to share their experiences and tell you how they went about getting trained and certified. They might even offer tips about finding work after you get your badge.