May 17, 2022-In his April Coaching article, Tim Bradbury, the Director of Coaching of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), lamented the lack of sportsmanship in youth soccer that has contributed greatly to the referee shortage felt here in Eastern New York and throughout the country.
I have been refereeing in Eastern New York since the 1970’s, starting when I was a teenager, and know that we lose more than half of our refs in their first two years of officiating and the number one reason why is because of verbal abuse by the adults, coaches and spectators, in youth soccer. So the next time that you yell at a ref, you might be contributing to our ref shortage.
I receive countless e-mails during the week from assignors trying to plug the holes in their game coverage, which has forced refs like myself to officiate from 9 am to 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday after working 9 am to 5 pm in our jobs from Monday through Friday. This is all very tiring! The ref shortage is the most severe that it has been since I started officiating.
But there is one thing that I notice that greatly contributes to the sportsmanship of the game that follows. Some coaches do it and some do not. When I see a coach greet the opposing coach before the game, I know that the match is most likely going to go well.
Now with some competitions, the teams are on one side with spectators on the other side and with other competitions, the teams are on opposite sides from one another. No matter, whether a coach is 20 or 50 yards from the other coach before the game, they should greet one another and talk for a few minutes. If nobody has done this, then the home coach should go over and welcome the visiting coach and players to the field.
Yes, I know that coaches and trainers before the match are busy sorting out who is at the field, who is still coming, putting the players through their warm-ups, etc. But there must be a few minutes to spare to talk to the opposing coaches.
In the games that I ref, when I see the opposing coaches standing at the halfway line talking amiably with one another either before or during the game, I know that it is going to go well. When opposing coaches totally ignore one another, then the game might not be very disciplined, no matter who the ref is. The attitude of the players feed off what their coach does as the coach is a role model for his or her players.
And who knows, if you talk to the opposing coach before the game, you might make a new friend.