The spring 2019 start of the ASL referee recruiting program

We’ve looked at various options to try to get our members to help recruit a lot more people to become soccer referees.  I sent several items out in the fall season and noted that we’d be on easy street if every team recruited one referee.  That’s going to be much more likely than expecting me to recruit 100 referees.  So, after talking with team reps who wandered in the office and the state referee committee about ideas, we’re going to start with two things, one immediate, one starting in the fall.

Brief background.  To become a USSF certified Grade 8 referee one must do some online work to reduce the am0unt of clinic time in person and then they need to attend an 8 hour clinic that we normally do on a Saturday or Sunday.  The clinic costs $75, which breaks down to $45 registration fee to USSF and $30 to cover the costs of the clinic.  Once a referee is certified with USSF, then annually they need to recertify and as a Grade 8 referee that would cost $45 and be done in the fall.  Since said referee is getting paid, they can pay the ongoing costs of certifying annually. 

After that, said referee needs a referee shirt which can be obtained from several online vendors and costs about $30.  Assuming said referee has black shorts and socks, that’s it.  We have a deal set up SCORE to get referee equipment pretty cheap and we don’t get a kickback and instead told them to use that to reduce the price.  For your info, here’s the link for that.

The grade 8 referee certification also works for youth soccer games at the complex on Saturdays and virtually all of the tournaments.  It does NOT work for high school.  You have to certify separately with NMAA to do high school games.

The first part – a referee scholarship program.

We’ll start small and assume all of you collectively can recruit 25 new people to attend one of three entry level referee clinics this spring.  I’ve list them below and the links to register for them.  The league will pay the $75 fee for the first 25 people who sign an agreement with us.  In exchange for us covering their costs of the clinic, then the person agrees to do a minimum of 8 ASL Sunday assignments in the spring 2019 season and 9 ASL Sunday assignment in the fall 2019 season.  If they do not do both, they repay us the $75.  No sad stories.  You either do 8 and 9 or you didn’t do what we need to help resolve our referee coverage problem and you owe us $75 and we expect to be repaid.  If you do youth games on Saturday, that’s great.  That helps them and reduces the number of people doing 6 games on Saturday and resting on Sunday.  The more referees covering games, the more we all come out ahead in our little soccer community.

The referee then needs to cover the cost of the shirt so that the referee has some upfront costs as well.

Most of our referees are either 15 or 50.  That’s not unique to Albuquerque.  Kids and dads and some moms are the people who become referees out of necessity for youth soccer.  We’d prefer that anyone who undertakes this life-altering opportunity to be at least 14.  We’ll discuss younger but I’d suggest you take a look around at how your own players behave towards referees if you’ve got a child younger than 14 interested. They can become a referee outside this program and do youth games on Saturday and see how they like it first.

Also, be aware that kids who play high school soccer are going to have pretty limited availability to meet the fall season requirement we have.  The high school season is very compacted and one of the reasons we have greater coverage problems in the fall is that a lot of high school kids who do games in the spring are just beat by the time they’ve done school, 18 hours of daily phone watching and texting, and played two high school games each week in September and October.  Some manage it, but it’s something you should consider.

I’m drafting a little one page agreement this week I can send you for your candidate.  If we get more than 25, I’ll be very happy and I’ll figure it out.  And we’ll be looking for an additional program in the summer to really aim at our biggest problem, which is the fall season.

Here are the links for these upcoming clinics.  Please note the March 3 clinic is a Sunday and generally to help Duke City Soccer League who plays on Sunday.

January 26, 2019

Click here for the link to register

February 9, 2019

Click here for the link to register

March 3, 2019

Click here for the link to register

The second part – a reward program

In the 90s, we addressed the referee shortage problem with a team referee bond.  It basically required a team to post a $150 bond annually and if they provided the league a referee who did 10 games, they could roll their bond over.  If they did not, they had to post the bond again the next fall season.  That worked for a while, but it eventually came to be viewed as a team fee and an annual nuisance that the person running the team paid and then tried to collect back from players.  We finally eliminated it and simply spread it across the player fee since only about ten teams had a referee.  Duke City Soccer league requires a team to provide at least one referee who does 4 games and if they don’t the penalties are pretty stiff, including the coach being suspended for the next season.

We’re going to propose something different for the fall season and see how it works.  Here’s what we propose.  In the fall season, if your team has a certified referee who plays the entire season on your team (meaning no refund and is paid for the first game) and does a minimum of 9 assignments on Sunday ASL games, your team gets a 3 point bonus in the standings.  So we get a reward with a carrot instead of punishment with a stick.  Same thing in the spring season.  And if that person plays on a men’s or women’s team AND a coed team……then that person gets to pick which team get the 3 points.  Both teams don’t since that doesn’t help get more referees, which is point of this little bonus system.

We’ll start this in the fall season since it’s usually not a good idea to change rules in the middle of a competition.

In conclusion, those are our first two steps to try to close the gap and be able to really put three referees on every game at every time.  Given these ideas, if they generate additional ideas any of you have, send them over.  At this point there's probably not many crazy ideas.....yet.



Albuquerque Sol


New Mexico State Soccer Association

United State Adult Soccer Association

United States Soccer Federation