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This is my sixth season as a Neighborhood Sports referee. Although I can only be a referee through high school, I have the option to be a field director in the fall. Even though I’ll be at ACC next year, I plan to be a field director for the league while I’m studying there.

I started as a referee when I was 13 years old. Neighborhood Sports has an age limit for playing soccer, but once a player turns 13 they have the option to become a referee. Neighborhood Sports hires referees during the fall and spring seasons. Many referees I’ve met played soccer through Neighborhood Sports before becoming a referee.

Being a referee has its good and bad moments. It can be hard because parents sometimes get involved. I’ve never experienced it, but there are times where a parent gets upset after a call is made. When they do, they’ll argue why the call was bad and what the call should’ve been and why. If you can mess up a call the players, coaches and parents will give a confused look as to why that call was made. On the other hand, it’s easy if you know the rules well enough. A referee needs to understand the plays they see, and I’ve had some games like that because I knew what to call based off of what I saw. It came natural to me. It’s even better refereeing with another person.

Being 13 years old doesn’t automatically qualify someone to become a referee; there’s a process they have to go through. The process begins by letting a commissioner know they’re interested in becoming a referee. Next, a potential referee attends a meeting where the commissioner goes over the expectations for the season, dates and reviews rules. They then take a test to see how well they know the rules (It’s pass/fail). The grade determines how much money that referee earns per hour. Then the referee assignments come out. There are more referees than referee spots, so the commissioner alternates refs every week.

From being a referee, I’ve learned that it’s a lot to handle. From dealing with the fans to knowing what to call throughout a game, there’s just a lot to deal with. There are times where you will mess up, but the key thing is to be confident in your calls. I’ve enjoyed being a referee and it’s a great way to earn money. It’s definitely worth it.