For more than 20 years I have officiated high school soccer matches for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). My officiating career started while I was coaching my children when they played soccer.
Two of them played at the competitive or select level and it was important that there be at least one licensed official among the team’s parents. The reason: Too often there were not enough referees to conduct a match.
Yes, there was a shortage of officials 25 or more years ago, and today the problem is exacerbated by rude treatment. When players, coaches, and fans disrespect officials they risk the potential of shortages. Young (and older) referees only tolerate abuse for so long before quitting.
State associations are pleading for schools to tone it down and control unsporting behavior so more officials can be recruited.
What players, coaches, and soccer fans may fail to realize is the role of soccer referees.
The job is three-fold:
- Make sure the game is played fair;
- Make sure the game is played safe; and,
- Respect the spirit of the game and keep it moving.
Lord knows I’ve considered hanging up the cleats several times, but the camaraderie of the pitch keeps me going…now more than 700 matches.