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Referee Articles

Become a referee, change the world and change your life!

A couple of years ago Tom Bobadilla, former FIFA Assistant Referee, published a note sharing his thoughts as to why people should become referees.

With the soccer season starting across our country and the ongoing need for referees, we are sharing Tom’s message to help influence more people to become referees.


Besides being a former FIFA AR, Tom is a member of the US Soccer Referee Committee, National Instructor and Assessor, and AYSO’s National Referee Program Administrator.

Tom has been involved for over twenty years with the development of referees at all levels of the game providing great instruction and being a good mentor.


Thomas Bobadilla, Former FIFA AR

When you ask a person if they want to be a coach, they immediately think about being a mentor and a role model, being respected by players and others, and having an overall positive experience. But when you ask a person if they want to be a referee they think about people yelling at them, players being disrespectful, etc.

For decades the soccer world has created and maintained a perception that becoming a referee is very challenging, at least for the first few years of the career.


We need to change this perception by sharing the benefits that come with being a referee. This will lead to an increase in referees and they will be happier to be involved with soccer.

One environment that provides the opportunity to change the perception is youth games. Organizations work very hard to provide a safe, fair, and fun environment for youth players to engage in soccer.

The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is a perfect example where the main emphasis is placed on providing the right environment for children to develop as players as well as good citizens.


Whether your kid is playing soccer and they need you to volunteer or, you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider signing up to become a referee.

In AYSO all volunteer positions are great and contribute a lot towards enriching children’s lives. Please consider selecting the referee volunteer position as we always need more referees.

Soccer is a simple game which offers children the opportunity to easily experience success, passionately pursue personal objectives like learning to increase their fitness level, and effectively become a contributing team member.

All concepts that every kid can use for the rest of their lives.


Refereeing provides the means for you to teach and mentor kids about fair play, good sportsmanship, positive and respectful behavior, and help them become good members in our communities.

Becoming a soccer referee, especially in AYSO, will provide you with the opportunity to help them realize their dreams. You can create a life-long experience of self-satisfaction and acquire a mindset and skills that you can apply to all aspects of life. As you are changing the lives of children, you will be changing your own life and future. Learning and training to be a referee will equip you with many skills and habits that will strengthen your ability to get the best out of life. The skills you will learn by being a referee will help you at home, work, and your overall activities where you engage with different people.


The key areas where you will acquire new and/or stronger skills include:

Mentoring – We will train you on how to connect with kids so that you can influence their motivation to practice good behavior at all times. You will experience many moments where a simple act of attention and caring will make you a hero to a kid and their family.


Conflict Resolution - Soccer is an activity between two very passionate groups of people with very conflicting objectives… they both want to win. Therefore, conflicts will arise and you as the referee will observe behavior, evaluate what you see and feel, identify options and apply the correct rules and best technique to help the game remain safe and fair so that it becomes a fun experience for everyone! We’ll provide you with techniques developed by experts that you can use to quickly and effectively turn conflict into a win-win scenario.


Leadership Development – You will do this for the kids as well as for yourself. Kids learn from the coach and they can learn from you as well, the proper way to lead a team into a better performance by leading by example. You will become a role model for kids, coaches, and parents when you help teach the game to the kids, inflate the soccer ball for the coach, explain the rules to parents at half-time or after the game, and many other simple but meaningful actions that you will take with kids, coaches, and parents.


Organizational Skills – Referees have to be organized in order to make good use of their time and resources on and off the field of play. We’ll provide time management skills and tools that will help you develop good habits such as having your equipment always ready and your mind always engaged with the kids, coaches and parents.


Fair Disposition – As the referee you will get to define good vs. bad behavior based on simple soccer rules known as the FIFA Laws of the Game. You will also determine what options to use in managing the game, identify disciplinary actions needed when bad behavior is present and, deliver the punishment per the rules within the spirit of the game. In other words, you will be the jury and the judge as you referee games. This experience will further enhance your sense of fairness, sharpen your analytical skills, and strengthen your compassion towards people as you will always try to do the right thing, both in games and soon after, in every aspect of your life.


As you can see refereeing soccer games will give you the opportunity to help children feel and enjoy the passion awakened by the beautiful game and, pick-up or improve life skills, as you change the world!

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