How are games scheduled?
Referees in divisions U9 and above select the games they want to referee, including whether they want to be the Referee or Assistant Referee for a particular game.  Referees in U7 and U8 should just show up in uniform for their own kids' games or by request from a coach. 
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Who are the referees?
They are us. Usually parents, sometimes older-age players, and all are volunteers.  Most start when their children are young and move up with them. Referee training is provided for all age groups and levels. In the younger age groups, referees are mostly parents who are new at it. Each team in the Under-7 through Under-10 age groups must have one and preferably two certified referees and Under-12 teams must have at least two certified referees in order to ensure coverage as every game must have at least one certified referee (three preferred).                                   

Why can't spectators or coaches yell at the referees?
Heckling and questioning the referees' decisions are not part of AYSO soccer. Remember that the game is for the kids. The kids learn good sportsmanship from how the adults act, as much as what they say. Referees, coaches, and all other volunteer parents and friends are out there to see that the game is safe, fair, and fun for the kids. The spectator's job at the game is to support the referee in conducting the game. The coaches' job is to coach and support the kids.  We ask that if you have an issue with the referee, save it for after the game and then ask your question or express your concerns.  In most cases an explanation can clear things up.  If a spectator or coach still has a concern, please contact the referee administrator.
 
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What training is provided for referees?
There are several kinds of courses and clinics: the introductory course for U7/U8/U9 referees, the basic Regional Referee certification course, upgrade clinics, refresher clinics, and Safe Haven instruction. Safe Haven training, which covers safety and child and volunteer protection, is an essential part of the training for AYSO referees. The referee training page describes the different classes and process in more detail.                                                                                                         

After training, we provide ongoing mentoring where more experienced referees can either work a game with you or "shadow" you during a game at your request.  Additionally, we go around during the season to the U10 games to provide advice and guidance.  It made all the difference for our senior refs, and hope you'll take advantage of it as well.  Please contact the Referee Mentor for more information.    
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What is "Safe Haven"?
AYSO has made a commitment to provide a safe place for children to play and compete. Referees have a responsibility to help make our environment safe, as well as fun. We have developed materials that instruct the referees in Menlo Park on what we mean by a safe haven and how we can all participate in making the AYSO experience a positive one for our kids. In addition, there is an online Safe Haven certification course. Safe Haven certification is mandatory for all AYSO coaches and referees nation-wide. Menlo Park AYSO requires all volunteers to be Safe Haven certified. A referee who has been Safe Haven certified will be entitled to legal indemnity for work as a referee under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.                                                     

When are the referee clinics?
Clinics are offered mostly in August and September. The full clinic schedule is posted in the referee training pages as soon as it becomes available.
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Do referees have to buy their own uniforms?
No. Once you complete your training, you will be provided with a free uniform (including shirt, shorts, and socks), hat, badge, whistle, flags, and a copy of the most current edition of the Laws of the Game. We love your volunteering of time. We do the rest.  Uniforms and equipment are typically available during the annual referee trainings - just come by to pickup what you need (say, for example, a change in waist size?)                                                                                  

Can referees referee their own child's games?
Absolutely. You can be the (center) Referee in your own child's games up through games in the U10 division. In U12 through U19, you can be an Assistant Referees for your child's games.  Because of the level of play at U14 and above, we ask that you obtain permission from the Regional Referee Administrator before refereeing your own child's game at those levels.
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Do referees have to referee every game?
No. We realize people have other commitments, sign up for just the games you can do. But please remember that as a volunteer league we rely on volunteers fulfilling their commitment  and ask that you referee at least half the games of a season.  Remember, all games above U9 must have a trained referee officiate.                                                                                                                               

When are the games?
Games are played on Saturdays for all divisions below U16. U16 and U19 games are played on Sundays.                                                                                                                             

What if a referee has a problem at a game with a coach?
It is rare for our Menlo Park AYSO coaches to create an incident. Coaches are trained not to pursue any issues they may have with the referee during the game. Report to the Referee Administrator any incidents of a coach behaving in a way that makes a game something other than a safe, positive, enjoyable, growth experience for the children. 

If a coach is consistently behaving in a manner that interferes with the conduct of the game in accordance with AYSO principles, ask one of the other coaches for that team to explain to the coach that if the behavior continues they will be asked to leave the area. Leaving the area means they must not only leave the immediate field, but leave the park such that they are no longer visible to the players on the field. 

If the behavior continues, ask one of the other coaches to have the coach leave the area.  If you need to remove a coach and he refuses to cooperate, stop the game until the coach is in compliance. If the game must be terminated because the coach will not comply, that team forfeits the game.  The best way to diffuse the situation is to handle through one of the other coaches and then let them handle it while you wait.
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What if a
 referee has a problem at a game with a spectator?
Our community consistently demonstrates good sportsmanship and spectator behavior at our AYSO events. Rarely is there a problem, and we have gone years without any incident at all. And this is for all referees collectively, let alone for any individual referee. As a referee in Menlo Park you can have an entire referee career without ever having a problem with spectators. But it can happen. Report to the Referee Administrator all incidents when a spectator behaves in a way that makes a game something other than a safe, positive, enjoyable, growth experience for the children. If a spectator is consistently behaving in a manner that interferes with the conduct of the game in accordance with AYSO principles, you should stop the game or, if you are the Assistant Referee (AR), signal to the Referee (aka Center Referee, or CR) to stop the game.       

The first thing to do is stop, and breathe.  From now on, things go at your pace, and the calmer you are, the easier the situation will be resolved.

After breathing, the CR should then go to the spectator's coach and have the coach explain to the spectator that if the behavior continues they will be asked to leave the premises.  Leaving the premises means they must not only leave the immediate field, but leave the park such that they are no longer visible to the players on the field. Once that discussion has happened, restart the game.  If the behavior continues, let the coach know that the game will be terminated and they will forfeit the game if the spectator doesn't leave the premises.  If the situation repeats, ask the coach to have the parent leave.  If a parent or spectator refuses to leave the field, announce that you're sorry, but that you're terminating the game. DO NOT attempt to forcibly remove the person nor ask anyone else to help remove them.  At this point, if they change their mind and leave, feel free to restart the game.

Breathe through it, it will work itself out. Again, the refs hold all the cards, you control the game, so no need to lose your temper - go at your own speed.  We haven't had a case yet where the spectator doesn't comply.  Remember, it is not only the physical safety of the children that must be safeguarded, but also the emotional impact the behavior of an unruly spectator might have on them.

Whenever dealing with situations like this with coaches or spectators, have one of your assistant referees over to back you up, and the other to keep an eye on the field.  We'll want each official to fill out an "incident report" and having multiple perspectives is very helpful.                    Back to Top

Can a Youth Referee?
Absolutely!  We welcome anyone 12 or older to referee in AYSO.  If you'd like to become a Youth Referee, we'll be sure to have you on a team with at least one other adult referee, and you're able to referee any division that is at least one level below your age (e.g. a 12 year old can referee up through U10, a 13 year old through U12).  If you'd like to become a youth referee, please print, fill out and send in this form to CVPA,PO Box 403, Menlo Park, CA 94026. If you do not yet have an eAYSO number please follow the instructions on the Referee Training Page to get one.  Youths do not have to fill out separate volunteer form. Then please contact the Referee Administrator to let him/her know you'll be refereeing and follow the instructions to signup and take the Regional/Basic Referee Course also on the Referee Training Page.

Who will answer my other questions?
If you have a question about any of the policies or administration the best person to start with is the Referee Administrator, and any questions about the laws or procedures, contact the Referee Mentor.