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News - Details

Eastern New York Encouraging Many More Females to Become Soccer Referees


From left to right: Cheryl Aronson, Cathy Caldwell and Jean-Marie Maio

By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association

August 25, 2023-The United States has appeared in six of the nine Women’s World Cup finals. The US Women’s National Team won the Women’s World Cup in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019 and lost on penalty kicks in the 2011 final to Japan. The squad’s earliest exit ever in the recent Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, in the Round of 16, paved the way for Americans to referee the final as American officials were sent home, through no fault of their own, as the US Women’s National Team advanced in recent Women’s World Cups.

Referee Tori Penso plus assistant refs Brooke Mayo and Kathryn Nesbitt did very well in officiating Spain’s 1-0 shutout of England in the final. All three cut their teeth and gained experience refereeing US Youth Soccer games.
Nearly half of the 114,559 registered players in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) are girls yet only 13% of our 2,300 registered referees are females. Increasing the number of female refs so the percentage corresponds to the percentage of players would end our referee shortage. 
There are diverse reasons for the lack of participation of women and girls as officials including:
• Coaches and spectators perceive female officials as easier to intimidate than male officials.
• Although females see soccer in competitive terms just like males, females often see soccer in more social terms than males. Newly-certified refs start with the youngest games that have one ref and no certified assistant referees. Although you can meet the greatest people on soccer fields, officiating can be a lonely avocation at times.
• Lack of bathrooms at some youth soccer fields. An issue for male refs but an even bigger problem for female referees as officials generally do a few games in one day. Females who ref at fields with no or closed bathrooms report that they do not drink water at all, a very unhealthy choice, or drive to a building with a bathroom and delay the next game.
Last year, Cheryl Aronson became the first female State Youth Referee Administrator (SYRA) in Eastern New York history. The SYRA is in charge of all the youth soccer referees and assistant referees in a state association.
Cheryl has set out to recruit more female refs and, building on the publicity from the Women’s World Cup final, is currently working with State Referee Adminstrator (SRA) Joe Brosi to finalize plans. Watch this space in the fall for updates on the Eastern New York initiatives to recruit more refs of both genders.
Meanwhile, anybody interested or thinking about becoming a ref can contact Cheryl at

With over 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