Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

It wouldn’t be much fun without a referee

dc1Last season my under 11 team were complaining not about the behaviour of the other players but about the parents of the other team. Snarling, sneering parents leaping around at goals scored, raising fists at goals against, berating the referee at every turn. Not pretty.  So to me the FA’s RESPECT campaign is a start in the war against punchy parents.

Figures point to around 5,000 referees between the ages of 15 and 18 in the UK. Not many stick with it until the age of 21. I don’t think the FA has got it completely right when it says they are all driven out by aggressive parents on the side of the pitch – many go off to college, get a girlfriend or a job or need to study. However despite a good hourly rate many do give up because as one of them recently said to me: “It’s just not worth it.”

There are just not enough referees to go around. The rise of women’s football has exacerbated the problem, to such an extent that around 10,000 games are refereed by the likes of you and I. Qualified coaches playing referee.

Watch the FA’s video clip below –  amusing, yes, but quite true. On a Saturday morning its as much a relief to see the ref turn up as it is to see my leading goalscorer.

So why do we all hate referees? That’s me on a Saturday morning blowing the whistle for the start of an under 9s match and the big guy with the bald head is already giving me the glaring eye. “Don’t you dare give a decision against my team”. I’ve actually seen referees approached at half time by managers unhappy with their performance. Hey we’ve seen it on the telly why not in the local park?

Why do they do it – well to get into their mind is easy, they are watching their flesh and blood out there. And he’s only, maybe five at most and some referee aged anywhere between 16 and 50 is telling him off for a crime he didn’t commit! “Don’t push me, ref, don’t push me!”.  Poor little Johnny would never do anything wrong.

But, and it’s a big but, young soccer players have to be taught to respect referees by parents and the way to do that is for parents to zip up their lips and show respect themselves. As a coach you have to teach your players not to react to bad decisions. We all get them. The players look up to you, and to their parents. All it takes is a bit of self control.


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