By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 31, 2021-Although I have been the Public Relations Director of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) for the past decade, I have been refereeing long before that, since Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.
When I ref our youngest travel team age groups––Under-9 and Under-10––I see cute things on the field that I have never seen before during thousands of games. The kids chasing a butterfly instead of the ball. A player deciding to sit on the grass and try and tie her shoe while active play goes on around her.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to all this fun in our youngest age groups as these are the most prominent ages for overly exuberant parents, a few of whom think it’s the World Cup Final rather than a youth soccer game.
In two recent small-sided tournaments on Long Island, multiple coaches on multiple fields substituted or tried to sub their players on the fly. This was corrected after I went over to the coaches and asked them to get my attention before substituting a player.
Except in one Girls-Under-10 game. I saw the coach subbing players on the fly, jogged over to his bench and asked him to get my attention before substituting at a stoppage of play. His response was “I can sub on the fly.” I briefly explained that he could not in outdoor soccer.
I saw him again subbing on the fly so I again went over to his bench and told him again that he needed to get my attention during a stoppage of play before subbing players. A couple of minutes later, I caught him again subbing players on the fly so I cautioned him and told him once again to get my attention before subbing. His response was, “The girls have not been playing soccer, I’m trying to get all my players on the field and you give me a yellow card for doing so.”
Yes, I could have given him a second yellow card for that remark and dismissed him from the game but decided to walk away and concentrate on young girls innocently playing soccer. Certainly, there is a stoppage of play in youth soccer seemingly every minute so his opportunity to sub would come soon enough. I’m hoping that he looked at the tournament rules after the game which read “substitutions may be made at any dead ball or stoppage, subject to the approval of the referee.”
If he did not read the tournament rules afterwards, hopefully he is reading this article.
Miraculously, the coach got my attention before subbing the rest of the game after having been cautioned.
A couple of minutes later, I was by the corner flag and one of his parents nicely said to me, “Coach got confused as he has been subbing our players on the fly this winter in indoor soccer.”
For anybody who might also be confused, here is the substitution procedure:
1. Substitute(s) stands at halfway line ready to go into game
2. There is a stoppage of play
3. Player or coach gets referee’s attention that they want to sub
4. Ref acknowledges sub
5. Substitute or coach calls player(s) from field
6. Player(s) leaves field
7. Substitute(s) enters field
8. Ref waits until sub is in position before restarting play with a whistle
As the Spring Season kicks off across Eastern New York, it’s important that all teams follow this substitution procedure, all respect the match referee and coaches not attempt to do their own thing.
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 nine 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 https://www.enysoccer.com/