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How to Become a United States Soccer Federation Grassroots Referee

Chris is a United States Soccer Federation Grassroots Referee and enjoys football/soccer. He hopes to share knowledge with others, enjoy!

Becoming a referee is a great way to give back the to community, make some money, and watch some great soccer.

Becoming a referee is a great way to give back the to community, make some money, and watch some great soccer.

Why Should You Become a Soccer Referee?

There are many different reasons to become a soccer referee. In the in-person training, I heard teenagers saying they wanted to earn some money and adults saying they wanted to continue being involved with soccer. There were as many reasons as there are individuals.

Referees need to realize that they are in an authoritative position and need to be moral and ethical in providing a safe and fair environment for teams to play in. The reason for becoming a referee is not necessarily important to anyone besides yourself, they just need to be positive reasons.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Referee?

There are multiple levels to refereeing. Let's focus on two different referee positions, the recreational referee and becoming a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Referee. I want to mention the first one because it is important and offers a stand-alone position and/or a great segue to becoming a USSF Referee.

A recreational referee is often an older player from a club or community that referees games for younger kids. This is generally monitored through the club and involves the club training the referees as well as paying the recreational referees. For older recreational games, it is often recommended to have an older referee as well. So for a u15 recreational game, it would be advised to have either a parent referee or a USSF referee. Many of our premiere club soccer kids referee the younger recreational kids' soccer games.

One of the recommendations is that a referee only officiates games that are younger than their age. This is because the referee is an authoritative person for the field and it wouldn't make sense to have a 13-year-old refereeing 15-year-old children. Many recreational referees are making between $10 and $15 a game. This is in 2019 and mid-Ohio.

USSF Referee Requirements

On July 1st, 2019, the structure of USSF Referees changed from grades of a referee to titles such as Grassroots Referee. This combined several grades and was done to simplify the process.

The entry-level referee is called a Grassroots Referee (a combination of grades 9, 8, and 7). They are able to officiate competitive, small-sided, or recreational youth matches. Small-sided means 7v7 or seven versus seven, which would be u8 or under 8 years old. The ceiling age for a Grassroots Referee would be amateur adult soccer.

To become a Grassroots Referee, there are two requirements that must be completed and passed:

  1. New Grassroots Referee - Online Course
  2. New Grassroots In-Person

New Grassroots Referee Online Course

The online course is pretty extensive and teaches the responsibilities of the referee as well as the Laws of the Game. There are quizzes throughout the online course as well. I had read that this course was supposed to take 4.5 hours, but having talked to several others who have taken the course, it seems that five to six hours is more realistic. In July of 2019, this course was $20.00 USD.

New Grassroots In-Person

To be allowed to take the "New Grassroots In-Person" class, the individual must pay for and pass a background check as a prerequisite. This fee is supposed to be changing and it has been said it will be around $70 to $75 USD. Also, any referee will need to be concussion certified. There are a couple of options to become certified, but I would recommend completing the free course by the National Federation of State High School Associations by the name of "Concussion In Sports." This will need to be presented to every person who can assign games to you before you are able to accept any game(s).

The in-person course helps to clarify how to referee through training with referees that are experienced with refereeing. Reviewing more complicated topics, such as off-sides, yellow carding, red carding, signals, assistant referees, and digging into multiple topics for clarification. The class allows participants to ask any questions for clarification or a better understanding of the Laws and/or game processes. This class was about eight hours in length and does cover a lot of information. The New Grassroots In-Person class was $25.00, although I do not know if this changes from area to area or not.

For completion of this course, there are also three other assignments that may be done at home. They are:

  • SafeSport: This is an agreement to be aware of abuse and how to assist in terminating and reporting suspicions of abuse or abuse.
  • Introduction to Safe and Healthy Playing Environments: This is a short online course that helps to prevent, recognize, and how to respond to emergency situations.
  • Grassroots Referee Certification Quiz: This is a pass or fail quiz that is comprehensive to all materials covered.

What Are the Benefits of Referreeing?

There are many benefits to being a referee. Several benefits are as follows:

  • Exercise
  • Game knowledge
  • Money
  • Helping the community
  • Best seat

1. It's Great Exercise

I have seen referees stay within the center circle. I have not been overly impressed with this tactic because of the limited visibility of the field of play and the lack of being involved in providing a safe and fair environment to play in.

Generally, after a game, I am sweating and feeling pretty good. I prefer to run with the game and keep the best watch over the game and players as I can. To be honest, I do not know how much I run in the average game.

I have talked with other active referees who state when they look at their pedometers, they have completed around five miles in some of the faster-paced games. The younger the players and the slower the game, the less a referee will be able to run. But getting outside and being active feels great and helps your health.

2. You'll Acquire Game Knowledge

To be a USSF referee, you do need to understand the Laws of the Game. But the more you study them and consciously review the Laws of the Game, the better you will become at understanding them and how they apply to gameplay.

This can be a benefit for soccer players who also referee as well as any referee who continues to officiate games. I find myself explaining some calls and rules to other parents on my child's club league that are newer and want to understand soccer more to help benefit their child(ren).

3. You Can Make Money

If you have a passion for soccer, refereeing can is a nice way to earn some money while being involved. I referee for a couple of different leagues, and the lowest games that I see are the u8 youth teams which still pay around $30.00 a game. These games are generally four 10-minute quarters in the Ohio-North leagues I am involved in. And for my area, the games go up to about $46.00 a game.

More ways to maximize your pay would be to referee for tournaments. This way, you may be getting three or four games in a day and cutting down on drive time. But if you are averaging $36.00 a game, you are looking at $28 to $29 an hour.

4. You'll Get to Help the Community

Surprisingly, there is a shortage of soccer referees, which will most likely become more of a problem with time. Being my first year, it was an eye-opening experience to see how many games may not have a trained referee. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but stepping into the role of a referee showed me how many things a referee needs to keep track of at the same time and maintain safety for the people playing.

Having referees for the community to have a safe sports area for people to play in helps develop a closeness and encourages community. By being a referee, you may not realize how much it helps that you are willing to step into that situation and support the community with more involvement to help develop the children and be active at more levels.

5. You Get the Best Seat in the Game

Being a referee gives you the best view of the game. You are in the action of the game and closer than any spectator will ever be. You can hear what players and coaches are saying and watch their skills amazingly close.

Standing on the sideline or watching a game on the television is enjoyable, but being on the field with the players and in the thick of all the action is incredible. Being able to interact with players makes it more of an experience as well.

I am more interested in under 15 games currently because my child is on a u12 and a u14 team. At this age, there are still things I am mentioning to players to help them understand the rules more, but I can give encouragement to players as well. Watching a game off the field does not compare at all.

Stephanie Frappart, Manuela Nicolosi, Michelle O’Neill

Stephanie Frappart, Manuela Nicolosi, Michelle O’Neill

© 2019 Chris Andrews