The SYA Soccer Referee Program provides United States Soccer Federation(USSF) certified referees for recreational youth and travel/club soccer leagues. Our Mission is to recruit, train, and educate USSF certified referees who support the SYA Soccer program, while developing leadership, professionalism, sportsmanship, and team-building skills applicable in all walks of life. SYA Soccer operates in Centreville and Clifton, Virginia, about 25 miles west of Washington, DC, under the auspices of the Metro DC-Virginia State Referee Program.
Many of our referees officiate in the most competitive youth leagues in Virginia, including the US Soccer Development Academy, Elite Clubs National League(ECNL), Club Champions Leagues(CCL), National Premier Leagues(NPL), and National Capital Soccer League(NCSL)—as well as several amateur adult leagues. Our referees also officiate in numerous Virginia Youth Soccer Association(VYSA) tournaments, and our best and brightest have been invited to Virginia State Cup, President’s Cup, and Region 1 competitions.
We welcome both new and experienced referees to join our team! Refereeing is not for everyone, but the rewards are fulfilling. It takes hard work, a positive attitude, and commitment to excellence to be successful. In return, you can expect to improve your knowledge of the game, self-confidence, fitness, and interpersonal skills. Moreover, you’ll become part of the family of thousands of referees throughout Virginia.
If you think you want to become a soccer referee, please read our Frequently Asked Questions. Once you receive your USSF referee badge, please email the SYA Soccer Referee Commissioner and Referee Assignor. We look forward to hearing from you!
David Kwieraga Alan Liotta
Referee Commissioner Referee Assignor
(571) 926-4448 (703) 789-6457
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Is there a minimum age to be a referee?
A. Yes. Federal regulations prohibit the collection or use of personal information of anyone younger than age 13 via websites or online services. The Metro DC-Virginia State Referee Program will not permit registration or clinic enrollment of anyone age 12 or younger.
The US Soccer Federation (USSF) recommends that youth referees be at least 15 years old, but SYA accepts referees between the ages of 13 and 15, so long as you have the maturity and responsibility to handle the demands of being a referee.
Q. How do I become a referee?
A. Prospective referees must attend and pass a certification course taught by a USSF instructor. Courses are held throughout the year in northern Virginia and are listed on the Metro DC/Virginia State Referee Programwebsite. Look under theClinic Listingfor “New Referee” courses. There will be times during the year when no courses are available, typically once the Spring and Fall seasons are underway.
Note:Beginning July 1, 2019, the US Soccer Referee Program is changing the classification system used to identify referee grades and names, as well as certification and recertification requirements. Previously, new referees certified as either Grade 8 or 9 referees. Adult amateur referees progressed to Grade 7, while state-level referees held either Grade 5 or 6 certifications. New referees will now certify as “Grassroots” referees. The Metro DC/Virginia State Referee Program is currently developing guidance and implementation plans for the new US Soccer referee classification system.
Q. Do I need prior soccer and/or officiating experience?
A. No—we will teach you. We want you to succeed, and to remain with the SYA Soccer Program for as long as you want. Of course, referees with prior playing and/or officiating experience tend to do very well.
Q. How do I register for the entry-level course?
A. Prospective referees need a current and valid email address to register with US Soccer. If you don’t have one, you can use your own or a parent/guardian’s email. Go to the Metro DC/Virginia State Referee Programand click on the link for RegistrationInstructions.
Once you register and pay the registration fee (by credit card or Paypal), enroll in a “New Referee” class under the Clinic Listing. Attend the course, pass the test, and receive your USSF badge—then email the Referee Commissionerat firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note:You do not have to attend a course offered by SYA Soccer—you can attend any course. Be sure to pick a course that best meets your schedule because you must attend the entire course to get your badge.
Q. How much does the course cost?
A. Currently, the cost is $70, which is paid directly to US Soccer.
Q. I registered and paid the registration fee, but the clinic also has a fee of $0. What does that mean?
A. Some Advanced Referee clinics have an associated registration fee, but the entry-level courses do not. The $70 fee is to register with US Soccer and attend the clinic.
Q. How long is the course?
A. The entry-level course is approximately 9-10 hours long. Each course will be structured differently, depending on the instructor, facility, and field availability (if there is an on-field training portion). Classroom and instructor availability typically determines when courses are held. Look for courses that best suit your needs.
Q. Does everyone pass the course?
A. No. There is a multiple choice, open book exam requiring at least 75% correct to pass. However, almost everyone who comes prepared for class, listens to the instructor, and reads the Laws of the Game, does well.
Q. Once I’m certified, can I referee for as long as I want?
A. No. Your certification only lasts for the calendar year, and US Soccer requires you to recertify each year. Recertification courses also cost $70, and require a 75% passing grade on the exam, but require fewer hours to complete.
For example, if you pass a course in February, you will be certified through the end of December. Some recertification classes held in August and September will be considered valid through the end of December for the following year (pass the course in September 2019 and be certified through December 2020).
Q. When I pass the test and become a referee, how much more will it cost?
A. You must have the official USSF uniform and basic equipment package before being assigned to games. The basic uniform and equipment requirements are described on our Referee Uniforms and Equipment page.
Referee “starter kits” are available through numerous soccer supply retailers and online vendors and cost about $40-$60. Official Sports is the exclusive referee uniform supplier to US Soccer, and uniforms and equipment can be ordered directly from their website: https://officialsports.com/. Other major online retailers include: Score (https://scoresports.com) and the Referee Store (https://refereestore.com).
Note: Referee shoes are not included in these starter kits, nor is a black undershirt or digital wristwatch. Buying these items will add another $50-$100 to your initial uniform package cost.
If you decide you love refereeing and want to continue, or you want to work more competitive games, you’ll need to have additional referee shirts in other colors (e.g., green, red, blue, and/or black), as well as both short and long sleeve lengths. The cost for these additional shirts does not have to be incurred all at once, and you can often get discounts if you buy multiple shirts at the same time or at certain times during the year.
Q. How do I get assigned to games?
A. Once certified, new referees should contact an assignor for a local club or league. If you would like to work for SYA Soccer, please contact our Referee Assignor, Alan Liotta, at email@example.com. Alan will get you set up in our assignment system, and ask you to fill out an IRS W-9 tax form so you can get paid.
If you are a new referee, you will generally be assigned games as an Assistant Referee on recreational league games. Based on your performance and interest, you can move up to more challenging assignments. However, SYA Soccer won’t pressure you to referee games beyond your ability or comfort level.
As you gain experience, our Referee Assignor will work with you to assign you games based on your age, qualifications, skill level, and interest in working as a “Center” Referee, Assistant Referee, or both, as well as your desire to work more challenging assignments.
Q. How much money will I make, and when will I get paid?
A. Pay rates vary for different associations and leagues. “Center” Referees typically make more than Assistant Referees, but some assignors have implemented an “equal pay” policy for all members of a referee crew assigned to a game. In general, higher level games, both in terms of age and competitiveness, pay more than lower level games, due to the greater skill and experience required of the referee crew.
SYA Soccer pay rates are available on our Referee Pay Rates page. SYA typically pays its referees twice per year, in the spring and fall, after the end-of-season recreational tournaments in June and November. SYA also has a bonus incentive plan for referees who work a certain number of recreational and/or Suburban Friendship League games per day and/or season.
Q: What are referee mentors?
Referee mentors are senior, highly experienced adult referees who’ve been trained to work with and provide feedback to younger and/or newer referees.Periodically, SYA Soccer may schedule mentors to observe and assist referees on game days. These mentors are friendly faces who will offer you advice on how to improve your officiating. You can also contact any of our mentors if you would just like to talk about soccer, refereeing, or other topics. If you’d like to request a mentor to come and watch your game, or to help you achieve your refereeing goals, please contact the Referee Commissioner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Can I become a State Referee once I’m a Grassroots Referee?
A. Yes. You can “upgrade” to the next classification level by completing all of the US Soccer requirements for a State Referee. These requirements are demanding, and you must be a Grassroots Referee for a period of time before you can advance to the next level. You must officiate a variety of challenging games, particularly at the adult amateur level, in order to develop your skills, poise, and fitness. You will also have to pass several referee performance assessments by a USSF Assessor, as well as a fitness test. If successful, you will be in the top 5% of all referees in Virginia.
If you desire advancement, we highly recommended that you have a mentor who can personally help you reach your referee goals. Please contact our Referee Commissionerif you need help finding a mentor.
Q. Will I also be certified to referee high school soccer?
A. No. High school games are not played under the IFAB (FIFA) Laws of the Game, but rather rules written by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS). Interested referees should contact the Commonwealth Soccer Officials Associationfor information about high school officiating in northern Virginia.
Q. Who should I contact if I have more questions?
A. Please contact our Referee Commissioner, Dave Kwieraga, email@example.com, or our Referee Assignor, Alan Liotta, firstname.lastname@example.org.