Referee Volunteers

Fall 2023–It’s all about the VOLUNTEERS!!!

AYSO is built upon the concept of VOLUNTEERING, and one of the most important roles to be filled is that of the Referee and Assistant Referees. (Without CRs and ARs, we cant have games!)  Most of you probably have little to no experience with soccer, but don’t let that stop you!  Learning to manage a game is easy and fun, plus you end up with the best seat in the house! The vast majority of new parent volunteer referees have never played soccer before (and certainly not officiated), but all you need is the desire to help provide our young players with a great outing, and experience the fun, excitement, and camaraderie of a fantastic team sport!  Being a Referee or Assistant referee is just about keeping the kids safe, playing fair, and having fun!

FYI: we need MOMs to come out and do this, too. Let’s not leave it just for the dads.

5U/6U/7U-All that is needed to manage a game/scrimmage at these tender years is a friendly parent volunteer on the field with the kids to help them start the game (it’s only 24-30 minutes long), keep the action moving (help restart the game when the ball goes out of play), and keep them safe and having fun. (We will provide you with a spiffy yellow referee t-shirt and a whistle–to make you look oh, so official!)  To get you ready for this volunteer role we will hold a short 1-hour ZOOM Orientation on how to officiate/supervise these games–It’s easy.  Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you a link to the available Zoom Orientations (  Plus, these are GREAT age groups to “get the hang of being a match official” in a super low-key environment, and to prepare you for the “real” officiating that starts to happen at 8U and older divisions.

8U/10U/12U/14U–Teams in these older age divisions need volunteer match officials (Referees and Assistant Referees) with a bit more training and an official ‘certification.’   The training/certification consists of an online component (which you can take [and retake if you wish] anytime) and an in-person/classroom session (which will be held locally–classes to start early August at the Colorado Center Community Room across the street from Helen’s Cycles on Broadway).  You can take a class elsewhere, in a neighboring region, if our class offerings don’t fit your schedule. 

This “Regional Referee” training will prepare you for both of the match official roles:

  • Assistant Referee: takes care of the touchlines (sidelines) and uses simple flag signals to indicate when the ball goes out of play (out of bounds) and which direction the restart will be taken (for throw-ins, goal kicks, and corner kicks, etc.)
  • Referee: has a slightly more comprehensive role, is sort of “in-charge” of the day, using his/her whistle and hand signals to manage the game, keeping it Safe, Fair, and Fun. It just requires a little more “organizational skill,” so the day goes smoothly.

Having enough volunteer referees is always a challenge–but without referees, the kids can’t have their games! 

Should you start preparing to be a volunteer match official now?  Before the season starts?  YES !!!  Start NOW!   Don’t wait until teams are announced (August 20th ?)  to start preparing to be a volunteer referee/assistant referee!  There is a lot to do (volunteer registration, online pre-reqs, online referee training, in-person classroom training, etc.).  First games are September 9th and you’ll want to be ready to jump in and help as a match official then!  See instructions on the “Become a Referee” tab.  

Every team should try to recruit as many volunteer referees/assistant referees as they can!  Coaches and Team Managers will need to enthusiastically recruit parent volunteer referees!  (But don’t wait for them to ask you!)  The more officials that teams can recruit, the better, because it guarantees match official coverage every weekend (there are 10 weekends of Fall games leading up to the end of season Playoffs), plus it helps spread out the workload so the same people aren’t refereeing games every weekend!  Please consider helping with this important volunteer role. If you’re really into it you can take the whistle as the Center Referee, or if you’d rather not be running the show (a little less ‘in the spotlight’) you can still be a huge help as an Assistant Referee, and maybe work your way up to being the CR when you get the bug!

  • 10U/12U/14U games need three officials (1 CR and 2 AR’s) per game.
  • 8U games can get by with a single (1) Center Referee, but it’s nice if we can recruit a “full crew” which gives the kids the feeling of  a real match with a real referee crew.
  • 5U/6U/7U games just need one parent volunteer in the middle of a very small field managing the hilarious play-date that is youth soccer at these ages.

If you have any questions about registration, training, or becoming a referee, feel free to reach out to me, Gray O’Brien, Regional Referee Administrator:

Referee Volunteer “Points Program” (10U/12U/14U teams only)

Teams in the 10U/12U/14U divisions need to earn 15 “volunteer points” in order to advance past the first round in the end-of-season Playoffs.  (See Referee Volunteer Points Program tab on the website.)  5U-8U division teams do not need to earn points.

THE MORE, THE BETTER: The more referee and assistant referees a team can “recruit,” the easier it is to share the workload and earn the required referee points for the 10U/12U/14U divisions. Each team should try and recruit a MINIMUM of three to five volunteer referees (“STRIVE FOR FIVE”) to keep the referee pool growing and ensure there are enough referees to work the games all season long (and share the workload). Three really isn’t enough and makes for a lot of work for just a few people.

Steps on Becoming a Volunteer Match Official–an overview (see details under “Become a Referee” tab):

1. Register to be a Volunteer for MY2023 

If you plan on refereeing for Fall 2023, register as a Volunteer on your inLeague account.

2.  Complete the safety and referee training

“Safety Courses” — all volunteers working directly with the kids need to take four “safety” courses. These are accessed through eTrainU/AYSOU.

5U/6U/7U volunteer “referees” only need to attend a 1-hour Zoom “Parent Referee Orientation.” 

8U/10U/12U divisions need “certified” referees and assistant referees, which means taking the more comprehensive “Regional Referee” training.  

  • Regional Referee training consists of completing an online component of 9 modules/chapters and an exam. Then you need to attend an in-person, classroom, session. Online referee training is accessed through eTrainU/AYSOU and is called:   “NEW – Regional Referee – Online + In-Person Companion Course” 
“eTrainU/AYSOU” –the educational platform used to sign up for and take various training specialties (refereeing, coaching, safety courses, etc.). Found through your InLeague account.


“Referee Refresher Evening”

This is a fun and informative evening for new and returning referees, as well as Coaches, to discuss the Laws of The Game, answer any questions you might have, and discuss subtle changes that may be introduced for the new season!!!

  • Date: TBD — 7PM-9PM at 2500 Broadway (Colorado Center, Community Room)


“Intermediate Referee Course” or “Advanced Referee Course” — when you have players in the 12U/14U divisions, Center Referees need additional training and then certification.

  • 12U Divisions need Center Referees who have taken and passed the Intermediate Referee Course (which can be taken after you have been a Regional Referee for a while).
  • 14U Divisions need Center Referees who have taken and passed the Advanced Referee Course (which can be taken after you have been certified at the Intermediate Referee level).
  • Date(s): there will be a two-day Intermediate course offered on 8/19-8/20 in Beverly Hills. There will also be an Intermediate Course (and maybe an Advanced Course) offered on two consecutive Sundays (10/15 and 10/22), also in Beverly Hills.
  • There are other Intermediate and Advanced classes being offered by other Regions. You can look these up by logging into eTrainU/AYSOU. There is also a list of those courses under the “Upcoming Referee Training” tab under the main REFEREES tab.


5U, 6U and 7U PARENTS–we need your help!!!

“Refereeing” at these age levels is the easiest, most entertaining, and most rewarding job in all of AYSO!!!

Let me preface this by saying it’s not really “refereeing,” but more like supervising a big play-date: kids running around laughing, occasionally falling to the ground, maybe even making contact with the ball and kicking it into the net!

Learning how to “referee” the youngest divisions (5U-7U) only takes an hour-long ZOOM meeting.  I will arrange for a meet and get you your yellow referee t-shirt, hat and whistle (probably meeting at one of my in-person classroom sessions [for the older division referees] and grabbing your gear)

At these levels it basically boils down to blowing the whistle to start and stop the game, mixed in with little friendly reminders on keeping the game safe for the kids, and how to get the play going again when the ball goes out of play (out of bounds).  We are striving for one adult volunteer per family to participate in officiating–so please plan on attending the ZOOM session.   You will receive a quick lesson on how to manage the younger games (plus a fashionable new yellow referee t-shirt, hat, and whistle).  It’s so easy and fun, plus you get to be out there on the field with the Kids!

  • 5U/6U Parents–games usually happen at Will Rogers Learning Community field (boys) off of 14th (near John Adams Middle School), and Grant Elementary (girls). 
  • 7U Parents–games usually happen at McKinley Elementary School field, off Chelsea Ave. Parking available in the school lot.


12U and 14U PARENTS–Referees need to upgrade !!!

Remember, as your child moves up through the older age divisions, every team they play on will need volunteer referees that hopefully have been “upgrading” along the way (from “Regional Referee” to “Intermediate,” Intermediate to “Advanced,” Advanced to “National”) to understand the nuances of officiating the older players.

That said, these divisions need Assistant Referees too, and just so long as you have taken the basic Regional Referee course, you will be trained and able to be a great volunteer AR with these games! If you are new to SMAYSO and have a child in the 12U or older divisions, it’s still a great time to take your first referee course and be able to contribute to your child’s team as an Assistant Referee!

12U Referees (Center Referee) should have taken and passed the Intermediate Referee Course (“Intermediate Candidate”). 14U Referees (Center Referee) should have taken and passed the Advanced Referee Course (“Advanced Candidate”).

Everybody must start with the “Regional Referee” certification.  However, after getting a little experience as a “Regional Referee” you will then be ready for the “Intermediate” certification needed for 12U, which requires taking the Intermediate course and an Observation on the field.  After that, you will probably be so hooked on refereeing that you dream of getting yourself prepared to do the 14U games with an upgrade to “Advanced” certification by taking the Advanced course. We hope you do!  Please go to the list of upcoming courses listed on the “Upcoming Referee Training Course Schedule” link.


For those of you planning on upgrading to the next certification level, please contact our Regional Director of Assessments, Charles Corbett, at:

If you are planning on upgrading to Intermediate, once you take the course we will first set up an “Informal Observation” with one of our Mentors/Assessors at a 12U game to discuss your strengths and see if there are any areas that need improvement. Then we’ll set up the official “Intermediate Observation.”  The Intermediate Observation is meant to be a positive experience, a learning experience, and the vast majority of candidates successfully make the upgrade to Intermediate certification on their first try!

If you are planning on upgrading to Advanced, once you take the course we will help facilitate the “Advanced Assessments” (one as Assistant Referee, and one as Referee) with one of Area 1/P’s certified Assessors. These Assessors are assigned to you from a different Region by the Area Director of Referee Assessments.

Requirements for Upgrade

For the requirements necessary to upgrade (age requirements, game counts, courses, etc) please refer to the following link: AYSO Referee Certification Requirements



We have a great Mentor Program consisting of very experienced referees from Region 20 that want to offer their time and feedback if you are interested in growing as a referee and getting more comfortable with the nuances of managing the players (and the sidelines). If you are interested please reach out to ???, our Regional Director of Mentoring at:   He will pair you with an experienced referee that will come out and watch your game(s) and give you helpful pointers that will make you a better referee!

We will also have experienced referees walking the fields during the opening weeks of the Fall season who will be available to answer questions and provide guidance and support.  Look for these knowledgeable and helpful Referees (in their distinctive red jerseys) and take advantage of their expertise and experience–feel free to ask questions about things you are unsure of (or confused about).


SELF-SCHEDULING your Referee Matches

When the time comes you will need to self-schedule your matches for the 8U-14U divisions. There are a few rules/guidelines you need to follow… For a complete description of self-scheduling rules and guidelines please refer to the following link: Self Scheduling Rules

Brief Outline:

  • At 7U/8U and below you can officiate your own child’s matches. “Home” team parents usually get first dibs on refereeing those games. Sign up for games on the InLeague self-scheduling page.
  • At 10U and above you CANNOT Referee your own child’s game.  You will need to sign up to officiate (Referee or Assistant Referee) a time slot other than your kid’s game. There are other guidelines which games you can sign up for, so PLEASE refer to the “Self Scheduling Rules and Guidelines” tab and a brief outline below. If you have signed up for the wrong referee slots, your assignment will be unceremoniously bumped.

Scheduling Rules and Guidelines Summary–“HOME Team Dibs”

  1. If your child is on the HOME team on a given weekend (HOME team is listed first on the schedule), then you may sign up for the game immediately prior to your child’s team game on that same field. You have until Monday morning at 9AM before that next weekend’s game to grab this slot. After 9AM the schedule is open and available to anybody.
  2. If your child is on the HOME team playing on the first game of the day on a particular field, then you should sign up for the last game of the day.  (I know this hurts, but that’s just the way has to go.)

We ask parent referee volunteers that are allowed to sign up for their appropriate time slot do so by Monday morning at 9AM for that next weekend’s game.  If your child is on the AWAY team, do not sign up for that upcoming weekend’s game before 9AM Monday.  We want to give the Home team parents the chance to sign up for those slots so they can start “earning points” for their child’s team (more on this later).  BUT…After 9AM Monday,  open slots for the coming weekend’s games may be taken by ANY qualified/certified Referee. 

Note: Anyone who signs up for the “wrong” slot (accidents happen, plus it takes a while to figure out “the system”) will be removed from the schedule for that game. Please remember to double-check the referee schedule later in the week to confirm that you are indeed scheduled for that particular game. You may have been “bumped” because the slot belongs to someone else. I apologize in advance for mistakes that may happen early in the season as we fine-tune “the system.”

Self-Scheduling Problems

When the season gets going, some of you may encounter issues with seeing 8U and older games.  If so, please contact us so that we can look into the issue.  There have been many changes at AYSO’s National office with how certifications were handled, so this may be the cause.

Reasons that you may not be able to schedule include:  Not Registered Completely or Registered Incorrectly, Safety prerequisites not met (SafeHaven course, CDC Concussion course, Sudden Cardiac Arrest course), Background Check not completed.

Thank you everyone for all your support in becoming Volunteer Referees. We are looking forward to a great Fall season.

Play On!