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Soccer organizations says more youth referees are needed to avoid interruption in play

Soccer organizations says more youth referees are needed
Soccer organizations says more youth referees are needed 02:23

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — If your child plays soccer in Western Pennsylvania, their season might be getting the red card even before it gets going. 

The reason is that there aren't enough referees to preside over all the games.

According to Scot Jennings, the state referee administrator for PA West Soccer, the organization needs to fill hundreds of refereeing jobs by the beginning of April.

"If you go back a couple of years, we probably had between 1,700 and 2,000 referees," said Jennings. "And at the end of last year, we had just broken the 1,500 mark. So, it is probably about another 500 would be the upside of that."

The shortage is largely due to normal job attrition and not enough people signing up to take the open spots. Jennings admits that part of that attrition is from refs not wanting to deal with unruly fans at games. But he says jobs like this have an ebb and flow with talent, much the way a job like lifeguarding does.

But Jennings says that this gig is great for anyone 13 years or older who likes sports, and they don't even need to know that much about soccer.

"It's not just for teenagers," he said. "It's for parents. It's for grandparents. Anybody that's looking for a great paying part-time position. And you're outdoors, and there is something to be said for that. You can literally take this training with no prior soccer experience necessary and then be certified as a soccer referee and get started."

Entry-level courses for referring start at $65, plus other fees. The training is both online and in-person, and candidates will be required to pass several background checks. Once someone is certified, they can make around $20 a game and work several games a week.

Above all, Jennings just doesn't want to see what has happened in other places happen here, which is leagues canceling soccer games because there aren't enough people to officiate.

"The national saying is 'no ref, no game,' and that's true," Jennings said. 

If you or someone you know might make for a good referee, now is the time to sign up. You can get more information by clicking here.

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