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North Ridgeville Amateur Soccer League

North Ridgeville Amateur Soccer League

NRASL Referee Information

Being a referee: The Difference Between NRASL Recreation Referees and USSF Certified Referees:


Suppose you are watching a baseball game: Its the Indians vs. the Dodgers. Dodgers at bat. Pitcher winds up, delivers the ball and it hits the dirt before reaching the plate.... "STRIKE!!!" yells the umpire.

Take a moment. Block out all the other comments around you the moment that word resonates in your ears. What do you do? Do you jump up and yell at the umpire? Do you make comments such as, "What are you blind?"

In soccer things can be a bit different. Every foul as described by the book, is not always a foul. Huh? Well, if I kick at a ball that you are kicking, what do you think the chances are that our feet connect oddly and one of us is "tripped"? A referee must quickly decide if this "trip" was intentional or trifling, and then must also assess whether the foul should have "advantage" applied - If by chance you own a foam brick for Sunday Browns games and you do not know what trifling and advantage means, I would ask you to keep the foam brick at home until you understand soccer. Also, not all "hand balls" are hand balls: A referee must quickly decide if the "foul" was an intentional, play-effecting action. For example, if a girl covers her chest to protect herself from the ball, that can be okay unless she holds her hands in a position that feeds the ball to her desired position. Oh... And what angle did the referee have to see these fouls? Did you see the foul because the players were between you and the referee, facing you? I bet the referee has a different line of sight than you do on that foul.

What if the game you are at is the North Ridgeville Parks and Rec Baseball, Indians vs Dodgers and that game happens to be the very first time your child is on the an umpire? Would you yell at your kid that way, or would you instead be upset when someone else is yelling at your kid that way?

During the Spring 2013 recreation league season something became very apparent to me. We have a decent group of kids who exhibit a tremendous amount of courage! Also, there does not seem to be a place where someone is welcome to take the first steps toward becoming a skillful referee. There is nowhere for them to learn; no matter their age!

Before anyone gets confused, let me explain my thoughts. In order to be a referee, there is technically no minimum age (based on USSF) and the training is very different than it is for a player. The problems with this are huge:

#1 USSF provides no on-field training. Basically you pay $100, attend 16 hours of class time (8 online and 8 in person), buy a uniform and you can now work ANY youth soccer game in the United States. The only two exceptions to this is: A referee must have permission to leave their home "district" and any rules set by local leagues.

#2 Is it worth spending the money to become a referee, only to learn you (or your child) does not like it or cannot handle the pressures of coaches, players and spectators? Just to "try it out" for 1 game, there would be a minimum $150 investment with a maximum pay amount of $28 that a 10 year-old would be eligible to earn. State league also has U8 divisions, and some assignors are willing to place a 10 year-old on these games. Some State League coaches and parents rival professional grade belligerents - it takes a very thick skin to handle these matches. Responsible assignors of course should have an idea of the referee's ability first - but where does this awareness come from (Rhetorical question here folks)?

Keeping these two things in mind, one may suggest a city league offer the ability to "try it out" at levels of play that are not always appealing or available to USSF referees. A place that can teach a prospective referee the "Laws of the Game", explain procedures, and offer guidance and support to these inexperienced referees with little to no investment. Maybe even an environment where camaraderie is promoted and belligerence is not tolerated.

Doesn't this sound like a decent idea? This is exactly what NRASL does. At the recreation level, the league allows any interested person (adult or child 10 and over) to "give it a try". Some of the first timers realize after the first game that it isn't what they thought, and they do not return - that is fine, they spent enough money to buy a whistle and stop watch, earned a few dollars, and they lived and they learned. Regardless, NRASL maintains a presence (usually me personally) at these matches to ensure a referee is learning and that the players are safe.

Others enjoy the experience so much they decide to return year after year or even pursue certification. Which is excellent for those of us USSF referee assignors that need capable referees.

How can we as a league and as a community help these Referee Rookies succeed? Easily! We can encourage them. We can understand that no one is perfect. Every level of referee misses calls (think NFL here people). And EVERY referee out there, certified or not, adult or child... Is somebody's kid!

Sure we all want to go out and watch our kids enjoy the game of soccer. We laugh, we yell, we cringe (when the ball goes through our own kid's feet untouched) and we all get frustrated. But, should we take this frustration out on a referee who is obviously learning?

Perhaps the referee should be coached?! You are absolutely correct! But when can a referee be coached in a game where the clock does not stop and the referee gets no break? This time comes for me (or my lead referee) no more than 3 times per recreation level game - between quarters.

If we as a community do not realize that we have the opportunity to step ahead of the National curve by offering the chance for someone to "try it out", we will have to resort to assigning USSF Referees to these games. I would be happy to do that. But, In order to do so, the referee costs would more than double. How do you propose we cover this increase? Keep in mind though, even USSF Referees can miss calls... And even if a call is not missed, NO ONE EVER AGREES WITH A REFEREE.

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