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Referee Corner

Referees are critical to the game of soccer - without them the game cannot be played! AYSO Referees are all volunteers, just like the coaches, administrators, field workers, and everyone else who makes AYSO work. Most referees are parents or relatives of the players, and some youth referees are even players themselves. Referees range in experience from beginner to very experienced, and all referees are offered plenty of opportunities for training within our region. Volunteers generally referee between one game every other week to several games each Saturday.

Referees play a vital role in keeping the games Safe, Fair and Fun - which is what AYSO is all about:

Safe: The Referee's #1 job is to keep the game as safe as possible for the players. While there is risk in all sports, the referee is responsible for minimizing such risks from field conditions, equipment, spectators, and the players.

Fair: The Referee is responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game in such a way as to keep the game Safe, Fair & Fun. He interferes with the game as little as possible, avoiding making calls for doubtful and trifling offenses. Referees only make calls for offenses they are sure occurred.

Fun: We want our kids to continue to play, and they will keep playing as long as it is fun. Referees learn that fun soccer varies from age group to age group of players.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How do I become an AYSO Referee?
A. You must first complete an AYSO volunteer application form on e-AYSO and be approved as an AYSO volunteer by Region 172. Once you are approved as a volunteer, the training to become an AYSO referee is provided to you free of charge. Note: All volunteers must register annually, even if they no longer have kids in AYSO.

Q. Is prior soccer experience required to officiate?
A. No, but some familiarity with soccer is certainly a plus. Coaches, parents, players and other volunteers have all proved to be excellent referees even if they have not played this sport. (Youth referees are welcome!)

Q. How are referees assigned to games?
A. Once you are a certified AYSO referee, you will be assigned games based on your availability and according to the needs of the region. AYSO referees are volunteers and do not get paid.

  • In Divisions U-10 to U-19, referees are assigned using the self-scheduling process. However, some experienced referees may be automatically assigned based on the Referee Crew method.
  • In Divisions U-8 and below, the teams involved in each game will provide their own referees, or the coaches will handle this responsibility.

Q. Where do I get referee gear and equipment?
A. Upon completion of your referee training, a uniform kit will be issued to you.  For official shirts, shorts, socks, patches, flags and other equipment, contact Regional Referee Administrator at [email protected].

Q. I’m already a Regional Referee, when should I try to become an Intermediate Referee?
A. Referees should be able to easily upgrade to the Intermediate level by their third year. For more information contact Regional Referee Administrator, at [email protected].

Still have a question?  Contact the Regional Referee Administrator at [email protected].

Youth Referee Program

The Youth Referee program in Region 172 was launched to answer the growing demand for referees and to provide a leadership opportunity for young people in our community.

Girls and boys ages 10-17 take the required referee training courses which certify them to officiate as assistant or center referees. These Youth Referees meet the same certification requirements as adults. There will usually be Youth-only Referee Training right before the fall sessions so that new Youth Referees can be trained with their peers.

A mentor accompanies Youth Referees to most games, especially their first few as the Referee - the person in charge of the game. There is an opportunity for additional training to cover games at the U12 and U14 Divisions as well as to be assistant referees (run the lines) for older division games. AYSO guidelines establish that a  Youth Referee should typically be at least two years older than the Division they are working as a Referee.

The program has multiple benefits:

  • Inspires younger players, giving them role models to look up to.
  • Young people participating in the Youth Referee program get a chance to do community service and a unique opportunity for intellectual and emotional growth.
  • Helps relieve the shortage of referees.


Although we expect the best behavior from everyone toward all referees, it is simply forbidden to criticize a youth referee. There is NO TOLERANCE FOR NEGATIVE COMMENTS TO OR ABOUT YOUTH REFEREES (or any other game officials, for that matter) at any time before, during, or after games.

Anyone who does so will be asked to leave the game vicinity by the center referee, and the Regional Board may also choose to enact further sanctions.

These Youth Referees are well trained, and many are also experienced players; however they are still youngsters without the life experience to handle negative remarks. Please give each your full support and help model good behavior for others to follow.


Thank you for your cooperation in this exciting program. Have a great season! For more information on the Youth Referee Program, please contact:

Region 172 Administrator at  [email protected].


Among AYSO volunteers, referees have special responsibilities that are part of their duties as game officials, leaders, and role models. The following standards should serve as guidelines for the proper behavior toward which to strive on and off the field.

  • Take responsibility for the safety of the players during a match and ensuring that play remains safe, fair, and fun.
  • Know the Laws of the Game, understand the spirit of the game, and apply the Laws fairly and impartially.
  • Show respect for the players, coaches, spectators, and the game itself.
  • Behave honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of the position.
  • Remember that every game offers the opportunity to make a POSITIVE difference in the life of a player, coach, parent, or other referee.
  • Manage players, coaches and spectators effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.
  • Handle disputes with coaches, players and spectators calmly and respectfully.
  • Stay calm when confronted with emotional reactions from players, coaches and spectators.
  • Support good sportsmanship with a positive word to players, coaches and spectators of both teams when deserved.
  • Encourage and enforce the AYSO Philosophies of "Everyone Plays," "Positive Coaching" and "Good Sportsmanship."
  • Remember that the game is for the players. Player safety and fair play come first.
  • Never tolerate nor allow abusive behavior or language.
  • Strive to achieve maximum teamwork with fellow officials.
  • Honor accepted game assignments. In an emergency, find a replacement.
  • Assist fellow officials to better themselves and their work.
  • Respect other referees' decisions and never publicly criticize another official.
  • Wear the full and proper uniform and keep it in good condition. Remember that when in uniform, one represents all referees and should act accordingly.
  • Maintain good physical conditioning so as to keep up with game action.

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AYSO Region 172

PO Box 11452 
Prescott, Arizona 86304

Email Us: [email protected]
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