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News - Details

An Open Letter to Soccer Coaches and Parents

Dear Soccer Coaches and Parents,Smiling_for_Web4
I've been the Public Relations Director of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) for the past dozen years but that pales in comparison to being a referee for the past 45 years since taking up the whistle as a teenager in 1978. Additionally, I volunteer as a member of US Youth Soccer’s Referee Recruitment, Retention and Development Committee and authored a book, Preventive Officiating, to help guide youth soccer refs.
The players eventually returned after the pandemic but many of our refs did not, causing referee shortages in both Eastern New York and throughout the United States. This referee shortage was far worse than anything that I experienced in my 45 years of officiating. It has eased a little in some local areas due to more referee certification classes and publicity surrounding referee recruitment. At our peak in 2014, Eastern New York had over 4,000 registered refs and we have approximately 3,000 today.
We lose more than half our referees in their first two years of officiating with the number one reason being verbal abuse by the so-called “adults” in youth soccer, coaches and parents. So the next time that you yell at a ref, you could be contributing to our referee shortage.
Please consider the following:
• Refs pay for our uniforms. There are five color shirts used by US Soccer (yellow, black, red, blue and green) and when you consider short- and long-sleeve, shorts, socks, sweatsuits and shoes, the cost of a complete uniform is approximately $1,000.
• Referees pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues to US Soccer and their local referee association
• Refs attend monthly referee meetings given by their local association.
• Referees must pass an annual rules recertification test to continue to ref, as well as watch safety videos and pass a Safe Sport test and background check every two years.
• With our ref shortage, many referees have worked overtime so your children could have a ref at their game. During this past winter, twice I refereed 11 hours in one day. Many of my colleagues have done the same indoors and outdoors. It is not much fun to ref all day on weekends and subsist on nuts and bananas, as there is not time to sit down and have an actual meal, after working from Monday to Friday but games must be covered so your kids have a ref.
That referee that you are yelling at could be on his or her fifth game that day. So this Spring Season, instead of yelling at the ref, thank him or her instead. Our soccer fields would be a much, much better place if the only chirping came from the birds in the trees or flying overhead.
Sincerely yours,
Randy Vogt
With approximately 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 10 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer. For more information, please log on to